Design a Library Competition

The English and Built Environment teams are excited to bring you the first GPUTC Community Design Awards with 2019’s challenge: design a community library!


  • A laptop donated by our ICT sponsor, Octopus 
  • A GPUTC trophy 
  • An excellent accomplishment to put on your CV 
  • The opportunity to help design a GPUTC careers and specialisms library space 

Libraries are obviously about books — but they’re about so much more! They’re often used as community centres, hosting talks and education workshops; they run social groups for teens, senior citizens, and parents of young children; they provide safe, warm and dry work spaces along with support in a host of ICT skills, jobs hunts, and research projects. And best of all? They’re absolutely FREE!

An effective library can be a crucial resource in a local community.


How to enter 

Read the brief, restrictions and judges’ thoughts. 

Submit a pitch including at least two of: floor-plan, elevation drawings, 3-D drawings, CAD model, physical models. Your pitch must include either ½ – 1 page of A4 written explanation of your ideas OR a 2 – 4 minute recording of a presentation. 

Email Lex (and hand any physical models to them): email subject MUST be ‘Design a Library’ 

Entries are individual; no group entries will be accepted.  

Deadline4th November 

 Brief and restrictions 

Design a one-floor library: you need to design the exterior and interior. 

You need to consider: aesthetics, sustainability and accessibility, as well as a library’s purpose: to be a research and community centre.  

Bisley is a small town with a population of approx. 6,000. The town council want to revitalise the town centre and encourage more people to use the library. Currently the library is situated on the outskirts of the town centre in a small building.

The town council have identified a site in the heart of the town, close to transport links and other businesses such as shops, offices, etc.

The site shown on the attached plan is a corner plot on the main High St. The surrounding buildings are low rise (2-3 storeys).

There is a service access to the rear for deliveries etc.


The town council would like proposals for a new, single or two storey library building which would be a hub for the local community. 

What are the judges looking for? 

Steve Coleby, GPUTC Vice Principal and Director of Operations: 

A library truly is a place of magnificence. Potentially unassuming on the outside, yet withholds both the world’s knowledge and imagination on the inside. A silent orchestra of awe and wonder; a library should resonate in its simplicity, yet respectful reflection on its importance. Style, wonder, simplicity and independent identity would win it for me. 

Lee Hemming, Lead Built Environment Teacher is a big fan of Birmingham Library, and urges you to consider creative architecture and developing a sense of community. 

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Guest judge, Amy – a Cambridge Librarian: 

Libraries need lots of (ideally naturallight. They should have good flow from room to room. The books are the stars of the whole thing and there should be plenty of storage shelves as books need room to breathe.  

Computers and internet access are important for libraries too. These spaces should be clearly divided from the book areas.  

Accessibility is crucial. As well as step-free access, this includes having check-out machines and help desks that everyone can use; low enough that people in wheelchairs and children can reach all the necessary bits. This means ensuring that there are facilities for deaf people, like hearing loops. The toilets should be accessible, gender neutral and have adult and infant changing tables.  

Children’s spaces are really important too. The room should have limited access so children cannot run off to other parts of the library without their guardian noticing. This also means they can make more noise without disturbing other patrons! 

Finally, community spaces are a great help to libraries. They can bring in much needed funds, they garner a sense of belonging for anyone who uses it and encourages more people into the library. 

If you need further clarification on the site map or brief, please see Lee Hemming. (However, please note that he is a judge, so cannot help you with your design itself.)

For more information on libraries and their role in the community, please see Lex in the English department. Lex is not a judge, so talk your ideas through in detail! (Though do note that whilst Lex is quite good at constructing an analytical essay, architecture is not their strongest point!)