Cambridge University Library launches design competition


(25 July 2013) A landscape design competition to transform the space surrounding Cambridge University Library has been launched.

The competition, jointly run by the University Library and the Department of Architecture, is open to professionals and non-professionals alike and is looking for bold submissions that reimagine the open spaces and environment of the iconic Giles Gilbert Scott building.

University Librarian Anne Jarvis said: “We are delighted to launch this competition, which has been made possible by the generous gift from Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing. It offers an exciting opportunity to elicit fresh and unconventional ideas for the landscape surrounding the Library, which could transform not just the entrance sequence to the Library, but the way such open social spaces are being used.”

Entries to the competition will be judged on their innovative interpretation of the site, its context, use and history – as well as their ability to integrate contemporary ecological research.

Ingrid Schröder, from the Department of Architecture, said: “We’re looking to prompt a true diversity of responses from anyone who’d like to enter. This is an ideas competition and that’s exactly what we want to see from people – their ideas for how the area surrounding Cambridge University Library can be reimagined.”

“The University Library is a monumental presence both within the University and the City, not least on its skyline. We want new ideas for how to use this outside space, to promote new visibility for the Library and to encourage people to think about the role of the site on the western edge of the city.”

The competition will run a series of events and workshops hosted by the Department of Architecture. This will bring together cross-disciplinary groups from within the University and stimulate and capture ideas from primary, secondary and sixth-form colleges in Cambridge.

A free downloadable DIY competition brief is available on the competition website ( for schools, groups or organisations that would like to use the competition as part of their curriculum.

The next stage will see fully registered participants produce proposals for the development of the landscape surrounding the University Library from which a shortlist of ten will be selected.

Finally, the ten shortlisted designers will team up with ten Cambridge academics to advance the detail of their design, the results of which will be exhibited and published as a book containing the final proposals and a critical academic response to each.