Albert Sloman Library and Silberrad Student Centre, Colchester

Well used and well loved by students and staff

· Credit: Edmund Sumner

Patel Taylor for University of Essex

Contract value:    £17.5m

GIA:    6,081 m²

Building of the Year 2016, sponsored by Marley Eternit


Essex’s new Albert Sloman Library and Siberrad Student Centre provide an extremely successful new front door to the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus. Patel Taylor has worked at the university for a number of years so was able to persuade the University to divide the brief into two projects.

Sitting on a stone base at the edge of the lake, the student centre has an over sailing canopy that welcomes the visitor and can be seen from the existing square to the south. Strong horizontal layers with an irregular window pattern echo the building’s existing fenestration. The materials soften the overall feel of the campus, with the use of limestone cladding, both polished and natural. 

  • · Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • · Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • · Credit: Timothy Soar
  • · Credit: Timothy Soar

The library extension is also a skilled piece of work, with expressive use of external in-situ concrete complementing the existing architecture. Both buildings were full, well used, and obviously well loved by students and staff. The client explained that they have had to take measures to prevent students sleeping in the Student Centre overnight, which was not a surprise – you don’t want to leave in a hurry. 

See other winners in the RIBA Regional Awards – East