Magdalene College Library - Architects Journal

April 2022
Text Harriet Jennings
Images Nick Kane

The New College Library contains a study space and library, college archive and art gallery. It appears as an arrangement of simple brick volumes which echo the typical gabled architecture of the existing college. The main library is a suite of interconnecting rooms lined with bookcases, reading desks and galleries, arranged on a tartan grid between interconnecting passageways. Three main reading rooms organise the principal circulation route through the library from the three-storey entrance hall, to a double-height central reading room and up to a long single-height room overlooking the garden.

Walk through a small archway in a stone wall and you emerge in the shadow of a pair of ancient yew trees. To your left is the New Library of Magdalene College, Cambridge, an elegant verticality of brickwork enticing you through its large wooden doors into a tiered, timber interior, bathed in light. ‘The building had to be a journey from the darkness under the shade of the yew trees up into the light of the building,’ says Níall McLaughlin, principal of Níall McLaughlin Architects. ‘Everything else was structured around that kind of journey.’

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