Queens college old library - acoustic and thermal secondary project profile

Returning peace and quiet to a medieval library


Project Profile


acoustic secondary glazing, thermal secondary glazing

The Old Library, built in 1448 is the oldest purpose-built library in Cambridge. It also has the distinction of housing a collection of over 20,000 manuscripts and books with some of the oldest bindings of any collection across the Colleges. Library medieval shelves made from lecterns - heritage interiors Library in the eves – medieval shelving made from recycled lecterns It also contains shelves constructed from medieval lecterns. These together with the ancient writing desks are nestled below a pitched, timber roof. The library runs along the side of Old Court and is essentially unchanged from the medieval period. Dormer windows placed at regular intervals along the eaves shed light into this ancient space. Original casement windows, with leaded light single glazing protect the interior. Ingenious heating method - Queens' College - retrofit Ingenious central heating installation Despite the ingenious central heating installation to help scholars stay warm whilst hard at work, the library was cold and expensive to heat, so a solution was required to make the space more sustainable. Due to the importance of this irreplaceable building, great care was taken during every stage of the project. A sample Series 10 horizontal sliding unit was manufactured and installed within an individual library window. This was deemed satisfactory by the Conservation Officer resulting in the full project being given the go-ahead. Window obstructions - timber beams Window obstructions - timber beams Great care, ingenuity and skill were required by the whole team, from surveyor through to installer to meet the needs of this beautiful building. Each opening came with its own unique set of challenges; ranging from crossbeams, supporting timbers and plasterwork obstructions; with the added difficulty of no opening being true and all having irregular dimensions. The resulting secondary glazing treatment has transformed the thermal qualities of the library's interior. It is warm and draft free, providing a more constant environment in which to preserve the irreplaceable collection. Peace and quiet have been restored to this medieval library, bringing silence and calm back for generations of students to come.