The Hive, Worcester Library
In Brief

University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council
Construction value:
January 2012

The Hive was conceived as a truly accessible building (that would not preclude any potential visitor or staff member using all the facilities) within a built form that would be innovative in operation with low carbon impact.

It is a testament to the strength of a collective vision pursued by the client, design and contractor teams working collaboratively to create a high performing low carbon building.

The Hive is the successful culmination of a groundbreaking partnership between Worcester County Council and the University of Worcester to create a fully integrated public and university library. This is an idea completely new to the UK and highly innovative internationally. The Hive is also home to the county archives and record office, a local history centre, and the county’s archaeology service.

Since its opening, there has been a 500 per cent increase in people signing up as members, compared to the old Library. Book borrowing has been up by 10 per cent, and the project has been awarded a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

The aspiration has always been for the facility to become a destination within the city and further afield.

The site is on the western fringe of Worcester city centre and lies within the regeneration area of St Clements’ Gate. This is an important zone, situated between the medieval centre and the riverside. In the second half of the twentieth century it became fragmented and lost any urban form. To the south of the site there is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which is retained and exploited as part of the site-wide historic interpretation. 

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The Hive was designed to meet a challenging sustainability brief, including a 50% reduction in Part L CO2 emissions. The building is cooled using water from the nearby River Severn, and a biomass boiler uses locally sourced woodchip to generate heat. By incorporating sustainable measures such as these, The Hive achieved an ‘A’ rating from the EPC and BREEAM Outstanding.

Since it opened it has been continuously monitored to reveal that it operates at an electrical energy consumption of 50kWh·m-2 year-1, about half of its design target (and one third to one quarter that of many contemporary office buildings).  

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"To finish such a complex and outstanding building on time and on budget shows that by working together our industry can achieve some really great things."
Peter Parkes, Head of Property Services, Worcestershire County Council

The Hive was conceived as a ‘social landscape’ providing horizontal and vertical connections, allowing every user to move around the building freely. Access through the site is provided by a series of ramps that form an external street. This approach has allowed us to create step-free access.

The building’s form and its unique structure draw inspiration from the kilns of the historic Royal Worcester works and the undulating ridge of the Malvern Hills.

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"The Hive is a stunning success. Britain's first university and public library is brilliant for our students while attracting and inspiring people throughout Worcestershire."
Prof. David Green, Vice-Chancellor
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The roof is formed by a series of irregular laminated timber roof cones, which optimise natural lighting and ventilation throughout the structure.  Through innovative parametric modelling developed in-house we were able to remove 250 tonnes of steel in the roof by replacing it with cross laminated timber. This saved 2,000 tonnes of CO2 compared with a concrete or steel alternative.

The roof is clad in copper alloy diamond shingles, creating a long-lasting shimmering facade that creates a beacon for learning in Worcester city Centre. 

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Post Occupancy Evaluation
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Good design, monitoring and control have ensured The Hive library in Worcester has comfortably beaten its energy targets.
CIBSE Journal, February 2017
Selected Awards

2016 SCONUL Library Design Awards: Libraries over 2,000m²
2013 Guardian University Award: Contribution to the Local Community
 RICS Awards (Regional East Midlands): Design and Innovation Award
2013 RICS Awards (Regional East Midlands): Community Benefit Award
2013 BCI Award: Sustainability 
2013 RIBA National Award
2013 RIBA Regional Sustainability Award
2013 Building Awards: Sustainability Project of the Year
2013 Civic Trust Award
2012 Partnerships Awards: Best Sustainability in a Project 
2009 Bentley Be Inspired: Innovation in Generative Design: First Prize

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University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council
PFI Client:
Galliford Try Investments
Structural Engineer:
Hyder Consulting (UK) Ltd/ Atelier One
M&E Engineer:
Max Fordham LLP
Planning Supervisor:
Arcadis AYH
Landscape Consultant:
Grant Associates
Galliford Try Construction
Cladding Consultant:
Montresor Partnership
Access Consultant:
All Clear Designs
Hufton+Crow, Ashley Mayes for WCC, WCC

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