A 17th century secret passage at an Oxford University college has been transformed into a library by Wright & Wright Architects. The new pale stone building links two existing ancient libraries at St John’s College via the passage, which now houses an artwork along one wall by Kirsty Brooks.
W&W’s 1940 sq m building gives them a mix of working areas including 120 new desk spaces with Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby’s 2014 Bodleian Libraries chairs, sofas from Cassina and even W&W-designed daybeds. These soft, built-in mattress-like zones are tucked away on one side of the upper floor’s reading room. ‘They’re intended as relaxation areas, so we will see how they use them,’ says architect Clare Wright, ‘they have evoked different reactions.’