The University of Nottingham’s George Green Library has been transformed from an underused 1960s building into a modern facility with high sustainability credentials and an excellent BREEAM rating.

The project involved a major refurbishment of the existing library, including doubling the total useable space and creating a unifying aesthetic with new façade ‘wrapping’ around the existing building and extension. Arup provided multidisciplinary engineering services and demonstrated that it’s possible to not just refurbish existing buildings, but to successfully adapt them without the need for demolition and rebuilding.

A complete refurbishment

The project saw the existing façade replaced with a new continuous cladding system around the refurbishment and the extension. Two new entrances were also created, leading into a large double story atrium space. Arup’s integral major-engineering interventions were successful in reusing the existing building, including lowering the existing basement slab and transforming a shallow under croft space into usable day-lit areas for staff offices and leisure spaces. Our extensive use of 3D modelling helped to visualise, communicate and coordinate the complex geometrics of the extension and interface.

Sustainable building design 

To fulfil the university’s ambition to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating on all new projects, Arup applied a range of sustainable technologies during the design. Natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting, and sustainable drainage systems were incorporated into the building to minimise flood risk. Introducing insulation improved the overall performance of the building which contributed to reducing operational costs, and the use of solar shading and photovoltaic panels were also beneficial.

Keeping the building open during construction

Arup developed a detailed phasing construction strategy with the architect and client to ensure continuous library operation. First, demolition works were undertaken within the existing basement to create the necessary space to install a new basement plan and equipment. The existing library remained operational while work commenced on the extension and air handling equipment was installed on the existing building roof. Lowering the basement’s existing level and the underpinning of the perimeter columns was later initiated. The individual time required to lower each column meant that work needed to be carried out while the existing building was still occupied, to meet the programme’s deadline.

Once completed, the library’s operations relocated into the new extension, allowing the major refurbishment of the existing building to commence. The basement’s lowering continued whilst commencing the stripping out of the internal finishes on the upper levels. This strategy resulted in no temporary accommodation being required, providing considerable savings on potential university ‘enabling’ costs.

The Arup team were very professional and had the technical capability needed to deliver the project to a high standard. The team came up with pragmatic solutions for the project. Including addressing our sustainability requirement for the building to be rated BREEAM “Excellent”. They worked well with all collaborators and were effective at staying within defined budgets.  

James Hale

Senior Capital Projects Officer, The University of Nottingham