24 May 2022

Catch up on our first designTimber webinar | Magdalene College Library

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Magdalene College Library was designed by architects Niall McLaughlin Architects and engineers Smith & Wallwork, with the support of Eurban Limited, who are specialist timber engineers and subcontractors.


Speakers from the team took the attendees through all the way from the architect sketches and original pitch, through to the structural engineers’ solutions and the delivery, fabrication, and installation of engineered timber components.


Viewers can see the incredible effort which went into the design and construction process, with their efforts standing today as a building which is testament to the beauty, versatility, and sustainability of timber, and the rich collaboration of the team behind it.


Beginning from a project brief which required the building to have a forward-looking, sustainable approach, the space maximises the use of natural lighting and ventilation, and minimises energy demand for the whole building. Strong consideration to the building fabric during the design stages allowed the team to achieve a high degree of thermal performance and airtightness.


The new building appears externally as an arrangement of simple brick volumes with timber windows and pitched roofs, echoing the gabled architecture of the existing college. This careful design means while it may be the first substantial addition to the main college site in over 50 years, it blends into and enhances the surrounding architecture of the college.


Structural materials used in Magdalene College Library include brick, timber, and stone, a complex palette of materials to combine for Smith & Wallwork, the structural engineers who brought the Niall McLaughlin’s architectural vision to life.


While the library made use of modern construction methods, it sits on a façade which uses an almost traditional housebuilding approach. Brick cavity walls and the central brick chimney structures form the core load bearing elements of the building, while seamlessly interlocking with the CLT and glulam which was used in the roofs and floors.


This complex interface of materials needed to be managed precisely across the construction process, where traditional methods of bricklaying were combined with modern methods and precisely cut CLT panels. Specialist timber engineers Eurban Limited became integral partners across the building project as they provided advice on materials, fabricating the Glulam beams and CLT, transporting and installing them.


The of the meticulous planning across nearly two years of construction, and the careful installation of the different structural elements, has created an architectural vision was achieved which can be seen as a ‘celebration of craftsmanship’ where tradition meets future – much like the students who will be studying in the library itself.


You can watch the full webinar on the Timber Development UK YouTube now. Make sure to sign up to the next event on the series, featuring the team behind ‘The Welcome Building’, on 8 June. Entry for the Wood Awards is now open, closing on 1 July 2022.