A while ago, I spotted the very distinctive silhouette of Magdalene’s New Library from the rooftop restaurant of the Varsity Hotel. It looked interesting and indeed is. First opened a year ago, it is the product of a competition in 2013, won by Niall McLaughlin, not least for a drawing he did showing the relationship between the planned New Library and the existing seventeenth-century Pepys Building which used to house the college library on its ground floor.
It’s not purely a library – more a complex set of private and semi-public work spaces for undergraduates, full of daylight, partly because of its high wood vaults, and with an exemplary use of oak, designed for a lifespan of four hundred years, quite a remarkable achievement given the extreme sensitivity of its site in a corner of the Fellows’ Garden. If it’s not shortlisted for the Stirling Prize, it deserves to be, as good a modern building as I’ve seen.
One’s first view over the wall of the Master’s Lodge:-
This is how it looks from across the Fellow’s Garden – built from Yorkshire brick to fit in with the material of the rest of the college:-
This is the entrance façade:-
Inside, it’s three storeys high, with a deliberately complex layout of staircases and smaller library spaces round the top-line main hall, all of it very beautifully detailed:-