Case study

Created on three floors of a former office block, the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms is a student library without books. The digital library includes more than 550 study spaces, 220 computers, group study areas, private rooms and café. 
Gresham worked with Newcastle University to develop and finalise its own interior design plans, supply and manage the furniture fit-out. The aim was to create a comfortable, contemporary space suitable for modern student life; an attractive and useful facility the University could showcase to prospective students.

Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms

Newcastle University

Products Used:
All products were specified from Gresham’s extensive portfolio of workspace furniture. Integrated power and data was incorporated into the designs. Standard furniture was utilised wherever possible and Gresham’s bespoke manufacturing division was commissioned to design and build the booth units.

Newcastle University had developed their own mood boards and interior schemes following a consultation with students. We worked with them to agree colour palettes and fabrics. We brought our experience to the discussions to ensure finishes and furnishings were practical and hardwearing as well as attractive. With the focus on digital technology, we created sofas with integral charging docks and a number of grouped seating areas for working on laptops and tablets. Tables are designed for collaborative use and as a focal point for shared interaction. A variety of seating styles helps create a more relaxed and informal feel, while workstation rows follow undulating lines and different baffle styles separate quiet areas from other study sections. High-backed seating creates a sense of private space and improves the acoustics in an otherwise social and open-plan study environment.

Starting work in November 2015, Gresham had to work to a tight timetable to get the library ready for its January 2016 Opening Day. We started with delivery and installation of the desking and tables so that the university’s IT contractor could complete their works. A delivery programme was agreed for all remaining items to be delivered and installed throughout December and early January 2016.

Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms is a thoroughly modern library – it has no books. Yet an absence of bookcases has not resulted in an office-like environment. Instead, use of a range of furniture styles, colour palettes and a clear distinction of specific study areas to break up the open place space has helped create an informal yet professionally appointed and functional library. Aimed at students looking for a return on their tuition fee investment, the space supports modern study in a social environment, with a mix of seating clusters, private booths, office-like pods and sofa space for laptop working and teamwork. With charging stations built into seating, on-the-go students can plug in and work without delay. High backed seating in the private booths and some seat clusters create a sense of privacy and help muffle sound, without shutting students off from social or collaborative work. Thanks to Gresham, a luxurious Internet café culture happily exists alongside the quiet study of the traditional library.

Clients View:

“We wanted something different for the library. A few years ago there was this idea that people wanted bean bags in libraries but we really wanted something professional.

Students like the way it looks and variety of provision here. They really love the private booths. They’re not shut away in them yet they’re really quite private and the high upholstery contains any sound – you can’t hear from one to the other. They also love the concept of the powered sofas and seats. We made sure there are power and USB sockets in every single study space – something that came through the student consultation.

This is the first time we have used Gresham. I was particularly impressed when we visited their showroom and Karl, their Head of Design, was busy scribbling notes as we described what we wanted. I felt confident then that Gresham could deliver what we wanted, and they certainly did that. I’m really proud of what we have created here – there’s nothing else quite like it.”

– Jo Geary, Head of Business and Management, Newcastle University.