University of Leeds – Edward Boyle Library

Edward Boyle library at the University of Leeds

Edward Boyle library at the University of Leeds


Ramboll. Richard Manning

Richard Manning

T: +44 7930 951 218

The Edward Boyle Library is a modernist concrete building located in the heart of Leeds University’s campus. Dating back to 1975 and extended in 1996, the Grade II listed building forms part of a much wider group of listed buildings designed by Chamberlin Powell & Bon.

Reflecting the university’s ambitious academic vision, the refurbishment of Edward Boyle Library was planned to provide an ‘information resource hub’ serving post graduates and research students as well as staff for a research-intensive university. The refurbished building had to be of a quality appropriate for the 21st century and cater for an increasing student population.

A dedicated research facility for post graduates and visiting scholars

Ramboll was appointed as part of a multi-disciplinary team to comprehensively refurbish the building, which got underway in 2015. The proposal aimed to differentiate the fit-out from the campus’s other two main libraries by focusing on post-graduate student requirements. The top floor of the library has been converted to a dedicated post graduate and research suite providing better working facilities for interdisciplinary research groups and for visiting scholars.

Award winning modern services, sympathetic to the library’s listed status

The poor condition of the existing services called for a complete replacement of all building services systems in order to deliver reliable systems that would provide a flexible, comfortable and controllable environment.

The listed status of the building and low storey heights required careful planning and coordination of the new systems. Furthermore the services strategy and solution had to be implemented whilst maintaining library operations. Ramboll played an instrumental role in leading the phasing strategy which allowed the library to remain open during academic terms. A four phase programme was designed following extensive surveys and examination of records to understand the distribution and operation of the M&E services, made difficult with 40 years of unrecorded modifications and additions. Our engineers designed modern, efficient mechanical and electrical services, sensitive to the original strategy. In doing so they conserved those features of the original services design that were of interest.

By employing some of the latest digital modelling techniques we overcame the constraints imposed by listed building status. For example the ventilation design was tested using computational fluid dynamics ensuring uniformity of air distribution. IT and power requirements were also incorporated with minimal intervention. Careful preparation and constant collaboration with Historic England and local planning officers ensured the design was coordinated with the existing and proposed architecture and was sympathetic to the library’s listed status.

Low carbon and renewable energy solutions reduces CO2 by 30% and energy consumption by 56%

As a listed building the library is exempt from Part L of the Building Regulations; however the university was keen to deliver wherever possible on their own sustainability policy.

Using the BREEAM 2014 accreditation methodology the refurbishment targeted very good rating. The building’s envelope was improved through additional insulation, secondary glazing, improved air tightness, thermal mass and night time purging. The low carbon and renewable solutions include a zone controlled air source heat pump, providing heating and cooling. Linked to the university’s steam powered CHP district heating system is the air handling plant that incorporates heat recovery with variable control to manage the building’s air flow.

Another requirement of the listed building status was the retention of the original layout, set within the coffered ceiling. Careful development of a low energy lighting solution managed by PIR’s and daylight dimming also ensured lighting levels were achieved in both the book stack areas and reader spaces.

The entire heating, and ventilation system is managed via a building energy management system connected to sub-metering, enabling close monitoring and management. The low carbon and renewable energy solutions reduces CO2 by 30% and energy consumption by 56%

Soft landings – supporting the library following completion

Due to the advance nature of the low carbon and renewable energy systems at the library, Ramboll’s engineers are supporting the university’s estate services, maintenance and facilities teams in controlling and understanding the systems within the library. This will ensure a smooth handover, where our teams are providing training and support during the early stages of operation and beyond to refine the systems and controls.

The fully refurbished Edward Boyle Library is a comfortable, inspiring and technology rich study environment. It provides access to over 2,000 study spaces, stylish, state-of-the-art meeting rooms and networking spaces in support of interdisciplinary collaborative activities and training events. It includes an Employability Zone, café, research hub, IT computer clusters, IT support, teaching and training facilities, accessible student studies, science, engineering and social sciences research collections.

Most Outstanding Conserved Building

Celebrating excellence in  places and spaces, the Leeds Architecture Awards recognised the transformation of Edward Boyle Library by presenting the project team the 'Most Outstanding Conserved Building Award' in 2019. Careful balance was achieved for this 1970’s library, creating a high quality, contemporary educational facility, whilst retaining the unique character of the listed building. 


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London SE1 8NW
United Kingdom
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Ramboll UK Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Company registration no. 03659970. Registered office: 240 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NW

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