Professor Elaine Thomas CBE, UCA’s founder Vice-Chancellor and a generous benefactor of UCA and its students, was invited back to the Farnham campus for a special ceremony and ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening.
Offering an extension of the studio environment, the Elaine Thomas Library has been designed to meet the specialist requirements of creative students. Rather than the usual rows of book stacks, the library’s upper two floors are arranged as a series of differently sized, book lined rooms. This maximises the building’s sense of light and openness, uses space more efficiently and creates places for a variety of types of study.
The ground floor offers a new public face for the building, with a glazed frontage to the campus. Its character echoes that of contemporary art space, allowing it to host occasional exhibitions, alongside more day-to-day usage for informal group working and enquiries.
The very first exhibition in the new space, coinciding with its opening, is an exhibition of Professor Thomas’ work, entitled Divine Antics, which will run until 21 March 2014. The paintings on display use acrylic and watercolour on paper and seek to recreate the effects of ancient frescos.
Simon Ofield-Kerr, UCA Vice-Chancellor, said: “At UCA we are keen to ensure that our campus spaces encourage the creativity of our students by facilitating individual and group creative work. The new library does just this and demonstrates the high design values that are so important to us.
“I am delighted that Professor Thomas was able to formally open the library which bears her name. It was her vision which led to the creation of a specialist arts university spanning the South East. Generations of students have already benefitted from her commitment and these benefits will be shared by generations to come.”
The refurbishment of UCA’s library was led by DRDH Architects and was completed in 11 months. As well as offering traditional library services, the library acts as a gateway to a complete range of support services, including counselling, dyslexia support, disability support, careers and financial advice.