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This major project for the Church of England consolidated the church’s archives, the most important collection of religious artefacts outside the Vatican, in a new, purpose-designed building in the garden of Lambeth Palace. 

Building upwards rather than underground (to withstand flood risk) created a richly detailed and enduring piece of genuinely civic architecture that reframes the centuries-old relationship between church and state.  Set within a highly sensitive historic milieu Grade 1 listed site, it includes a new study centre, exhibition space, conservation studio and archive stores.

Mindful of the imperative to conserve resources in the longer term, the Library is designed to endure and age gracefully.  In practical terms, it is a highly efficient mechanism of preservation, conforming to exacting technical specifications, its effectiveness enhanced by its negligible consumption of energy, low carbon emissions and a strategy of low maintenance. 

Half the Library’s energy requirements are generated by photovoltaic panels on the roof, while rainwater is sustainably channelled into a new pond in the Archbishop’s garden, encouraging biodiversity as part of a sustainable and ecologically rich landscape.

Low-light galleries displaying publications from Lambeth's special collection

Entrance hall accessed from Lambeth Palace Road as seen below

This is an incredibly exciting moment. It marks the beginning of making sure that what the head of the National Archives described as 'the second most important ancient library in Europe' – not just in the UK – gets a proper home: a home where it can be looked after, and where scholars can come and it can be used properly.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury

Lambeth Palace Library and Archive site illustration, Wright & Wright

The new building forms part of a masterplan for Lambeth Palace, historic home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  In adding to a complex historic ensemble, it cultivates a new and distinct civic presence that addresses and uplifts its surroundings, with beautifully detailed masonry walls featuring specially handmade bricks.

At its heart, in the great tradition of the monastic library as a scholarly refuge, is the reading room, a tranquil, set-piece space with oblique views of the Archbishop’s garden, to preserve privacy.

Elevation from Lambeth Palace Road, Wright & Wright


  • RIBA London Award 2022
  • LABC Best Non-Residential New Build 2021
  • BDA Supreme Winner Brick Awards 2021
  • BDA Public Winner Brick Awards 2021
  • Schuco Cultural Building Award 2021
  • Architectural Review/MIPIM Future Projects Award 2017: Old & New
  • Shortlisted for 'Culture' WAF Award