Here’s the first few images of Bruynzeel Storage Systems’ latest storage installation at the University of Greenwich’s stunning new library and school of architecture. Designed by Ireland-based architects Heneghan Peng, the library features new book displays and static shelving specified in RAL9004 ‘Signal Black’ across three of its four floors. The striking colour for the shelving was by no means a foregone conclusion. “The architects were looking at a dark grey for the shelves,” said Ginny Malone, Head of Library Services at the University. “We knew from the start that the colour palette the architects were working from was of an industrial tone. We knew there would be open ducting, steel, aluminium … and the inside was going to be raw concrete.”

Despite some reservations, the industrial feel was a big hit with the client. “Remember, we were coming from an environment in the past where we’d gone for beige throughout,” said Ginny. However, the university felt using the dark grey suggested by the architects for the shelving, a paint colour used for the undersides of German railway rolling stock, was not an option. The client group at the University instead put forward bright white as an alternative. Neither colour made the cut, and with the benefit of hindsight it’s easy to see why. The low-rise black shelving sits perfectly in the environment, adding drama and definition to the library space, while the hip-height steel display shelves, topped with white, lend a stylish retail-influenced finish to the floor plate. “In the end we went for the flat black, despite considering a dimpled, ‘bashed’ finish,” said Ginny. “We’re delighted with the black shelving. I think they look great. It gives a frame to the books … and the books bring colour into the environment.” Bruynzeel installed over 5km of Sysco library shelving at the University of Greenwich Library, plus a high-density mobile shelving system for the library archives, finished in Jacob Jensen-designed Shade fronts. The Library opened to students in September 2014. Photos © Paul Ellis