Back to the 2021 Winners Supreme Award

Lambeth Palace Library

Sponsored by
Ibstock brick
Lambeth palace 1


Location - London
Brick Manufacturer - Ibstock Brick Limited
Brick - Swanage Bespoke Blend with Ashdown Blue Grey Headers
Architect - Wright & Wright
Brickwork Contractor - Grangewood Brickwork Services Limited

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About the project

“Phenomenal quality of brickwork and detail. Clearly the result of a highly technical and productive engagement between architect, factor, brickmakers, and brickwork contractors.”

Situated in the heart of London, the newly extended Lambeth Palace Library is one of the most culturally significant buildings in the country. Home to the Church of England’s library and national archive, Lambeth Palace plays host to a litany of historic treasures, including a 12th-century Bible and the death warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots, signed by Elizabeth I.
Representing an investment of more than £23.5m, the design of Lambeth Palace Library has been spearheaded by architects Wright & Wright. The newly-constructed annex sits within the existing palace garden, resulting in a curious, yet compelling, build.

An imposing wall of Ibstock handmade bricks presents a sturdy, eye-catching façade to the busy streetfront of Lambeth Palace Road. The bricks are further used to impressive effect in the squat brick tower that houses the archive itself. Rather than store the books and manuscripts below ground, as often happens in archives, Wright & Wright chose to extrude their housing from the earth and used the stack to the building additional presence, calling back to the Medieval roots of Lambeth Palace library.
The application of Ibstock handmade bricks in its cliff-like walls is designed to hint as something valuable within – a nod to the massive stone walls of the Jewel Tower the last surviving fragment of the 14th-century incarnation of the Palace of Westminster which sits just across the river.

Ibstock bricks have been specified to tremendous effect throughout the development. Three tons of Ibstock’s Swanage handmade red bricks, plus occasional dark-grey kiln-fired headers have enabled Wright & Wright to imbue the development with an aged, timeworn exterior and create a richness to the surface – entirely in keeping with the library’s ancient surroundings, while creating a character entirely of its own.

The brickwork skin itself is reinforced to the concrete structure in a carefully detailed Flemish bond, with some of the panels recessed diaper-work, with header-stretcher-header to form a cross.

One of the most striking aspects of the Lambeth Place Library is the seamless juxtaposition of the commanding squat tower and the constant awareness of the development’s garden setting. In spite of the brick-laden mass of the tower, the interior has been designed to engender a feeling of profound connectivity with the landscape. The rest of the tower is deep, dark storage, with a thick membrane of brick and concrete protecting the collections and enabling the insulating properties needed to best preserve the books.

These spaces have been afforded a unique character of their own; windowless, steely and crammed with industrial shelving, they exude a sense of importance and security, while occupying the most prominent position  in the tower. Sitting at the top of the tower is a glazed meeting room wrapped with a loggia from which it is possible to enjoy extensive views of London, enhancing Wright & Wright’s intention of creating a weighty brick presence in a city increasingly dominated by glass and steel.

Sponsored by Ibstock Brick

Ibstock brick

Ibstock Brick is able to offer a market leading range of brick products and systems thanks to the extensive knowledge and experience of Ibstock Brick, the UK’s largest brick manufacturer, and Ibstock Kevington, the leading provider of brick special shapes and prefabricated masonry components. All backed by a range of value-added services designed to support your project from concept to build.