New Bodleian Library Refurbishment, Oxford, UK

SectorSector: Buildings - Education

CostCost: £ 50,000,000

ClientClient: Oxford University`

locationLocation: Oxford, UK

project DetailsProject Details

Pell Frischmann are providing structural engineering design services including detailed finite element modelling of the new structure, and the complex investigation and justification of the ability of the existing structure to bear new design loads. We are also providing Traffic & Transportation design services.


Demolition of the existing central book stack to foundation level will allow the construction of two widely spaced reinforced concrete cores, between which a ‘floating’ concrete box containing reading rooms will span over a wide open exhibition space at ground floor. The complexity of this structure is further complicated by the concentration of services that is needed to rise within these cores, and thus a large number of openings through core walls. Integration of the new structure to marry with the existing levels is a particular challenge, with typical floor heights only being 2.3m apart. As a result; low head room above roller and fixed book racking have complicated mechanical and electrical services distribution for heating and cooling plant, with existing service ducts in the perimeter structure reused where possible. Extensive asbestos removal forms a challenge to renovation works of these ducts.


The project has incorporated detailed fire protection measures to protect the precious collection by both retrofitting the existing perimeter areas of structure and designing the new central construction for a typical fire resistance of 4 hours. This is achieved by retrofitting existing columns with concrete encasement of columns, slabs being retrofitted with additional concrete screeding. Areas have been compartmentalised with partitions and concrete dividing walls to limit the impact of fire. Complex fire suppression systems have also been utilised in the design, including gas suppression and conventional sprinklers.