Inspired Learning

Striking library design set at the heart of Girls’ Boarding School Campus

St. Mary’s Calne School Library

The Woods Bagot London Studio has designed & delivered a beautiful new library at the heart of the St. Mary’s Calne School campus in Wiltshire, UK. Having opened its towards the end of 2020, the library is a hub of inspiration and learning, with a striking design that incorporates the adjacent apple orchard and surrounding century-old buildings.

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Project details

From the western side along the main road that runs through the campus, the 660-square-meter edifice appears as a simple, rectangular pavilion clad in brick and topped with an articulated roof of timber and glass. Upon entering, visitors are welcomed by a dynamic interior with each story having a distinct purpose and specified zones. While the ground floor is meant to be lively, aimed at group projects with direct access to an orchard adjacent to the library, the upper level has been designed for more formal focused, individual studying.

Brick “bookends,” or separate ancillary forms along the northern and southern areas of the building’s perimeter provide storage, stair access, small project rooms, and warehouse control systems. To optimize the spaces available for learning and reading, conventional book racks are replaced with study booths, display zones, and shelving within the interior walls.

The glazed façade faces northeast to limit direct sunlight while illuminating the newly formed passage from the library to the gardens and orchard. Taking direct inspiration from the fruit trees, several structural support beams connect to the undulating interior-side of the roof to give the impression of a tree’s branches. Clerestory glazing enables the appearance of a floating roof and double height curtainwalls fill the spaces with daylight from the top. A metal detail is integrated throughout the façade to continue the vertical elements of the trees.

The scale and detail of the building is sympathetic to the architecture of the entire school in its elevations but deliberately modern in its composition. With the final touches achieved in November 2020, this building completes the western edge of the grounds’ central greenspace and provides a new academic haven for its students.

Calne, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
St. Mary’s Calne
660 square meters
Design Development

Talk to Debby Ray about Education and Science

Photography by Will Pryce