Headington Library Oxford Brookes University library building architecture design exterior view
Nick Kane , Oxford Brookes University
Library Details
Basic Information
University library
Year of opening
Total Cost
University / Institution
Oxford Brookes University
John Henry Brookes Building
Headington Campus
OX3 0BP Oxford
United Kingdom
Project Story
Main Motications and Objectives

The library in the university’s new award-winning John Henry Brookes building opened in February 2014. Library team wanted to create a new experience for our users by providing a library that would be an inspirational space for study, learning and research, provide easy access to information resources, both printed and electronic, be fully IT enabled, be easy to navigate, be both welcoming and secure, provide a range of working space for users (silent, quiet, social, group), provide an uplifting working environment for LR staff, facilitate the development of improved services and take into account the needs of self-service operation.

Key to the building’s development was the overall aim to bring together a number of previously distributed services to improve the user experience. The openness and permeability of the design means that library users have easy access to a range of range of other facilities including Careers, Student Central, the Students’ Union, as well as social learning areas, teaching rooms and catering.


The building is located on the University’s main Headington campus. The north elevation overlooks the main entrance and piazza while the west elevation overlooks adjacent parkland.

The library is an inspiring place for students to study, with lots of light, airy spaces and reading rooms with fantastic views. Vistas and permeability were important elements of the design. So, the library, which has a presence over six floors, wraps around a central atrium which is given over to a multifunctional social learning space and café. This area, called the Forum, extends the learning spaces which thread through the library.

The general collections sit on the upper floors where students can choose from a variety of quality learning spaces, with access to university PCs or power sockets for their mobile devices (all spaces have power sockets and wi-fi is pervasive).There are student presentation rooms, equipped with the same IT provision and book visualisers as in the teaching rooms, allowing students to rehearse their presentations in advance.

Part of the library extends across the top of the central lecture theatre, providing an informal area for groups to work in. This area, called the Platform, has specially designed furniture to make working together easier, with large screens, whiteboards, casual seating with views across the Forum, as well as vending machines to keep the students refreshed.

Library offices are located across the floors and support is provided via a HelpZone which includes a coaching area with AV equipment for drop-in tuition or small group introductory sessions. Nearby, a self-service cabinet allows students to borrow Google Chromebooks free of charge.

To optimise space, electronic mobile shelving has been used for some of the general collection but its main success has been in the journals, archive and special collections areas.

Other significant services include two training rooms, a graphics studio with computers and facilities dedicated to design, and an assistive technology suite with tuition areas and one-to-one rooms.

  • RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects): National Award

    Awarded June 2014

  • RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) South/South East: Building of the Year Award

    Awarded May 2014

  • RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) South/South East: Sustainability Award

    Awarded May 2014

  • Education Estates Awards: Student Experience Award

    Awarded November 2014

  • Oxford Preservation Trust: New Building Award

    Awarded November 2014

New Project Data
New building
Yes / 2006

Total Floor Area
4,500 m2
Floor Area Open to Public
Shelving Capacity Open Stacks
Shelving Capacity Closed Stacks
Number of Staff
58 FTE
Total Seating Capacity
Group Study Rooms
Individual Study Rooms

Late, Night, Weekend
Additional Features
Special Rooms

3 student presentation rooms, 2 training rooms and 1 student meeting room

Special Features
Additional Comments