2012 recipients

Suzi Winstanley

ThinkSpace: Designing For Changing Reader Needs In The Contemporary University Library


How can reader space in the contemporary university library be designed to support contemporary multi-programme use?© Suzi Winstanley 

This project examines the new demands on reader space facing the contemporary university library, proposing and modelling prototype design solutions to meet these challenges as an integral part of the research process.

The contemporary university library faces a number of challenges including: changing study patterns (24 hour access, peer-to-peer collaboration, higher utilisation rates); a shift away from print and towards digital dissemination (online databases, digitised books, copyleft and open access); and the ongoing proliferation of power-hungry digital devices (tablets, laptops, smartphones). These challenges occur at a time of constrained funding and higher student/'customer' expectation. As a result, the university library needs new, reconfigurable forms of reader space that can support multi-programme use at an affordable cost.

Traditional library interior design and furnishings do not meet these emerging requirements. Neither, however, do the new off-the-shelf solutions currently being offered by manufacturers which remain underdeveloped, space-inefficient and inflexible (frequently being derived from office-, rather than library-, specific precedents). Architects have designed bespoke solutions which can be effective but suffer from high costs, low levels of R&D, and a lack of scalability. Consequently there is a clear creative and commercial opportunity to rethink and redesign interior settings for the contemporary university library as a typology.


How can services – data, power, light and acoustics – be integrated to create an individually adaptable microspace that balances functional requirements with aesthetic appeal?© Suzi Winstanley 

The research emerges out of, and runs in parallel to, the £22.5m extension and refurbishment scheme for the University of Kent Templeman Library by Penoyre & Prasad which will be used as a case study and test site for prototyping.

More details www.thinkspaceresearch.tumblr.com


Suzi Winstanley is an architect and researcher based in London. Her research focuses on spaces for knowledge sharing at school, university and the workplace. Employing an action-led approach to research she combines ethnograpy and prototyping to fuel design work in practice.

Suzi joined Penoyre & Prasad in 2007 where she has translated research and a collaborative approach to design into large-scale school and university projects. She became an associate in 2011 and is currently the project leader for the University of Kent Templeman Library extension and refurbishment.

Suzi has taught as a Visiting Lecturer at Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford Brookes universities.

Suzi Winstanley July 2012

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