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workspace, educational and catering furniture


University of Birmingham


Main Library

Project Value:

£1.3 million

For over 100 years research from the University of Birmingham has created a major impact on the city, the region and the world. Current research continues to provide innovative, grounded and enduring solutions to some of the world’s biggest issues.

The new library has been six years in the planning. Designed by Associated Architects to underpin the reputation of the University, this exciting new resource brings a new dimension to student learning. With 62,000 metres of shelving the library creates a hub for the campus and provides an inspirational place to work and study.

Meeting complex demands

A requirement to meet the diverse needs of all the different users of the new library introduced lots of complexities. The plan had to accommodate many types of space; 

  • areas for study associated with high demand texts
  • informal and private collaborative group working
  • individual private working 
  • small and large group collaborative working
  • social learning space
  • staff offices
  • post graduate reading room
  • media research zone
  • academic skills centre
  • training suite
  • café

At Broadstock, we always aim to add an extra dimension to a project using our experience and expertise to provide added value which then manifests itself in the final output. By fully understanding the architect’s 3D designs, working closely with the University and absorbing the output of stakeholder research meant we were able to deliver space designs which ensured that every aspect of the new library was optimised to meet the needs of all stakeholders: in a nutshell, we accounted for the functional requirements of the building, the structural design aesthetics and the planned external environment.

We wanted a timeless, classic look and Broadstock’s experience in helping us achieve a coherent scheme across the variety of different study spaces given the size of the building was invaluable. The engagement was very personal, we knew the individuals, we weren’t just working with a faceless company… this made the whole process much easier.
Diane Job, Director of Library Services

Exceeding expectations

We challenged the original brief to ensure the furniture for each area achieved the objective for the allocated space: touchdown seating was proposed close to the charging lockers, study desking with power and charge points, statement pieces and arrangements were used to optimise the voids and viewpoints from the building. The style and type of furniture were matched to different types of users and styles of study: rich wood desking and chairs were specified in the post-graduate reading room, whereas the media hub has individual private seating for listening to music alongside state of the art collaborative editing suites. And vibrant, inspiring staff offices were enhanced with splashes of colour.

Precision management

With products specified from 16 suppliers and bespoke requirements manufactured by our in-house team the project benefitted from our unrivalled end-to-end project management services. By working flexibly around the onsite build challenges and integrating with Carillion’s team, meant we were able to adapt the install programme at short notice to react to on site conditions. Our ability to dovetail our activity with the M&E suppliers, storing furniture until it was required on site and exceeding all the H&S requirements meant the furniture was installed within the required timeframe.

The end result speaks for itself….

Working together with Broadstock we have pushed the boundaries with the supply chain to get exactly what we wanted. For example, there have never been as many power sockets in Away from the Desk units as we have here. This has allowed us to provide power access to suit the capacity of each piece of the furniture across the building.
Stephen Ashton, Senior Project Manager

Creative study environments for effective learning