Originally founded in the 19th century, Portsmouth University provided training for personnel working in local navigation companies. Today, its various faculties welcome more than 20,000 students. The university library is the centerpiece of knowledge sharing.
Designed by ABK Architects, the library building was built in the 1970s, when the school was a polytechnic specialized high school attached to a high school founded about ten years ago. A historical context in perfect harmony with the USM Haller layout system, also created in the 60s! "By choosing USM Haller, we have helped to restore the building's original character," says interior designer Laure Debout, who was entrusted, under the guidance of architects Penoyre and Prasad, with the renovation of the ground floor. (2,000 m2) of the library. "This task was an opportunity to rethink the overall spatial concept of the library with USM Haller as storage furniture. USM's tubular metal frames blend seamlessly with the raw elements of concrete ceilings and exposed aeration wells. "
"By choosing USM Haller, we have helped restore the building's original character"
- Laure Debout, interior designer
The plan has been redefined in the spirit of the university's educational mission to its students. University librarian Ken Dick explains that "traditionally, a library is equipped with parallel shelving that can create a sense of narrowness because of the closed and dark areas that result from such a layout. "
Here, the shelves have been replaced by five groups of tables with computer stations, neighboring with the USM furniture. As Laure Debout explains, "the elements define the distribution of space and modify the overall vision of the library. The resulting spatial and living areas stand out for their ergonomic design. Another advantage is the improvement of acoustic conditions and spatial perception. Each group includes sofas and other seating such as armchairs and new window sills on the periphery of the space, giving users a variety of typical work environments for those rooms with specific uses.
The new furniture is lower than the old furniture and the light goes through their central opening. In addition, the chrome surfaces reflect the light, making it possible to make the most of daylight, especially during the winter months.
Other tables and the information point are at the center of the library. Shelves are banned from this area so that students can also work in large groups in an open space. The ultimate goal was to create a studious and friendly atmosphere for students to exchange freely.
The same concept has helped to reduce the separation between the cafeteria and the press area. Students can sit and read or chat over a cup of coffee. "Layout and layout have been a challenge but are critical to achieving our goals," says Ken Dick. In a project of this kind, the furnishings and equipment chosen by the client are larger than usual. Here, the university had the opportunity to use the library as a showcase to attract new talented students from around the world.
On certain days, the university opens its doors - and especially those of the library - to potential future students and, most importantly, to their parents. "The desire to surprise visitors to the university library - which required an investment - was therefore a commercial decision," said Ken Dick. Once the renovation was completed, the university's steering committee came to visit the locals and was very impressed. All the work done has therefore paid off, as shown by usage statistics that are increasing year by year as students are increasingly enjoying the library.
It was consciously decided to create a space of great value, with decorations evoking rather an office, in order to value the space and to induce the students to behave with more professionalism. "They can meet and exchange in an atmosphere worthy of the adult universe but leaving room for flexibility," says Laure Debout.
The students are very satisfied with the result of the renovation. They love and respect new furniture and the distribution of space as a harmonious unit.
The timeless character and the very solidity of the USM furniture give the layout of the library an authentic continuity. The modularity of this very varied furniture is a big investment made by the university which is a public institution. Reducing or expanding units is as simple as it is fast - whether in the library itself or anywhere else on campus.
"The library works according to its purpose: to be a portal of knowledge. One immediately recognizes the place of choice returning to the library during the studies. "