Architecture Students from Kingston University have taken up three of our libraries as a precedent study – fuelling ideas for their first major design project: a place of study. As first-years they are learning those fundamental ways of thinking about light, structure, scale, spatial sequence, public & private space, and the specific culture of a setting and its inhabitants. Helping them out along this steep learning curve, we are reminded of the power these fundamental skills have in giving coordination to creative ambition. It is an exciting time for Mayar, Shafi, Yaasmeen, Fluke, Robb, and Jamie, who came to visit us in our studio to talk about our Royal College of Art Library, Women’s Library, and RIBA Reading Rooms (at the V&A). Over drawings, images, models, and material samples a lively discussion sprang from their challenging observations and questions. What was clear was that these students weren’t just looking at rooms – they were reading rooms; forming ways of verbalising their architectural experiences, putting their fingers on the signature details, and scanning between the lines for the strategic ideas. We look forward to seeing how their places of study take shape, just as our own libraries at two Oxford Colleges develop on-site. Reflecting on our meeting with these students it was interesting to consider the precedent after which our own buildings take shape – how the grammar of the architectural discipline evolves and is read anew.

RIBA Reading Rooms