Formally the Public Records Office – ‘the strong box of the empire’ – Kings College London acquired this massive Victorian gothic edifice with a view to rationalising their various London libraries onto one site near their Strand Campus.

Our concept was to break down the ‘prison-like’ internal planning to create a more spacious facility and a welcoming social hub for students, which could be fitted out with modern services and computer facilities. The building was robust enough to take very contemporary interventions and following close co-operation with the City Corporation Planning Authority, English Heritage, and the Crown Estate it now accommodates 2,000 students, 1,250 intranet linked computer study spaces, a rare book collection and 37km of shelving all in a carefully controlled environment.