Weston Library Refurbishment

Weston Library



Central Oxford
Department(s) Bodleian Libraries
About the building

The New Bodleian, a Grade II listed building built in the 1930s, became full after just 30 years. This led to books being stored off site, which proved expensive and impractical. In addition, the New Bodleian was not able to meet modern archiving standards, so a radical renovation project to create a new library – the Weston – was set in motion in 2011.

One of the key objectives of the project was to safeguard the 2.5 million volumes making up the Library’s special collections, including Shakespeare’s First Folio and four copies of the Magna Carta. Other objectives included modernising the outdated and energy-inefficient facilities and making the Library accessible to all, without compromising the historic building.

The resulting new facility has 11 storeys, including three basement areas. It houses three state-of-the-art reading rooms, a visiting scholar centre, a lecture theatre and a seminar room.

A major feature of the building is a new public space comprising an exquisite atrium, cafe and exhibition spaces. From here visitors can view a quadrangle of bookshelves on the floor above, exposed thanks to a new double-height ceiling and a windowed gallery.

Sustainability was a crucial factor of the project. Over 140 tons of salvaged stone were reused in the new facades and thermal tubes were installed in the roof to pre-heat water through solar power.

Completion September 2014
  • RIBA National Award 2016
  • RIBA South Regional Award 2016 
  • RIBA South Building of the Year 2016
  • Shortlisted for Elle Decoration Best British Design award
  • Museums + Heritage Award 2016
  • Architect's Journal 2016 Retrofit Award
  • Architects' Journal's 2016 Building of the Year
  • Shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award 2015
  • Finalist for the Green Gown Awards 2014
  • Icon Furniture Design of the Year Award 2014
Architect WilkinsonEyre
Main contractor Mace