We were approached by the architect, De Matos Ryan, to measure for a disabled access lift in the British Library in Central London. The British Library is located next to St Pancras Station on Euston Road and contains copies of every book published in the UK as well as being the largest library in the world. The building it is situated in is less than 50 years old however it is a Grade I listed building which can make the construction of a lift very difficult. The client needed disabled access across 3 floors for library visitors as well as private functions that take place on the 2nd floor. The lift’s overall travel would be 5.8m.
The disabled access lift needed to cover 3 floors and have adjacent doors on both 1st and 2nd floors as well as being perfectly aligned between the 2 steel beams supporting the roof. One of the initial challenges we faced was that for a lift of this size, a conventional lift would require a 1500mm pit below the lower floor level, however due to the small distance between the floor level and the ceiling of the floor below the maximum pit we were able to have was 130mm. In addition, a conventional lift would need 3500mm metres above the upper floor level however we had a maximum height of 2350mm as the ceiling could not be taking off or adjusted for the lift.
The lift structure also needed to be able to support two landing balconies weighing 500kg each. We had 2 sets of automatic power car doors adjacent to ground floor entry onto the balconies of 1st and 2nd floors. The architect wanted the to maximise the light that enters the space so chose a white structure with pinned glass on the outside of the structure. The finish makes the most of the light pouring into the building and makes the whole experience of using the lift feel less claustrophobic. The placement and attachment of the glass proved challenging because there were no points that a hoist could fix to therefore the glass was moved and positioned by hand. Even though this took longer than expected the finish of the lift looks great.
The lift now supplies disabled access for library users and is an aesthetically pleasing addition to the Grade I listed building.
Location: Central London
Year Completed: 2017