Public art at Campus Heart

The New University Library

A New University Library (NUL) is planned for the centre of our Clifton campus, on the site of The Hawthorns, at the corner of Woodland Road and Elton Road.  The NUL forms a key part of the University’s vision and strategy for transforming the Clifton campus, which includes providing new and enhanced facilities, improvements to public spaces and creating a welcoming heart to the University for students, staff and the wider community.

The New University Library building has been designed by a collaborative team formed by Hawkins/Brown, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and BuroHappold – companies behind some of Europe’s top education and library projects – and result in a high-quality architectural addition to the city landscape.

Artist's impression of new University Library

This architecturally significant building will provide state-of-the-art library facilities for staff, students and visitors, and support cutting-edge research into our most significant societal challenges. It will also support the intellectual development of generations of future scholars, who will become global ambassadors for the city of Bristol.

For the first time, the University’s unique Cultural and Special Collections will have a home that is fit for purpose. The collections will be made accessible to all the University’s communities – students, staff, civic and global.

Through close engagement with the Cultural Collections, the art programme will extend the reach of these resources, making connections between the collections inside and the public realm outside. The public art programme will also draw on the heritage of the area to help articulate the character of this place. The location is the heart of the University with historic buildings, significant open green space and commissioned artworks already contributing to the personality of the campus.

Our public art programming is being delivered with the Contemporary Art Society and guided by our Public Art Advisory Panel and the University’s Heritage and Public Art Committee. The commission principles that guide the direction of commissions are:  Valuing Excellence, Promoting Collaboration, Best Practice Delivery, and Integration with Design.

A major new public art commission for the NUL will result in a memorable and permanently sited artwork, for a public realm that extends a warm welcome to all and encourages people to feel this is a place where they belong.

The NUL and public realm plans are already transforming the centre of our campus into a vibrant hub for the University and city community. Since the start of the programme in 2018, the University has already improved a number of its spaces and facilities for the benefit of our staff, students and members of the local community.

Public art programming has also been taking place as part of the early stages of this development. As part of a ‘Make it yours’ campaign in 2018-19, which engaged students with the process of visioning the future of this central area of the campus, artist Annie Nicholson, aka The Fandangoe Kid was commissioned to devise a series of workshops and installations which explored themes of belonging and home.

New University Library mission

  • A place that welcomes all to the heart of the University
  • Inspired by the spirit of ‘Make it Yours’ and amplifying a sense of belonging
  • Drawing from history and heritage of the area to articulate the character of this place
  • Demonstrating commitment of University as a global civic institution
  • Extending the reach of the Cultural Collections into the public realm
  • Transforming perceptions of the University