The refurbished Elaine Thomas Library, on the University for the Creative Arts Farnham Campus, opened in 2013. The building offers an extension of the studio environment, with dedicated spaces for individual and group creative work. As well as an extensive range of specialist books and electronic resources, the library acts as a gateway to the full range of support services available, including counselling, dyslexia support and financial advice.

What makes the redevelopment of the library at UCA Farnham stand out is the university’s unwavering commitment to integration of its high proportion of students with disabilities. Given UCA’s strategic aim of attracting people with disabilities to its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes – and its longstanding relationship with nearby school for the severely disabled, Treloar College – the redevelopment of the Farnham library space came with a very specific set of challenges.

photos © Stephen D. Lawrence

The solution
“When the brief came to redevelop this space, we agreed one of the key points would be universal access,” said Simon Harper, gateway services manager at UCA Farnham. “We decided that at all points there would be clear wheelchair turning areas. There is nowhere in this building where a wheelchair cannot turn 360 degrees, and that included the rolling stacks.“

In conjunction with the client and lead architects DRDH Architects, Bruynzeel Storage Systems developed and installed a range of user-friendly electronically powered mobile storage systems to house the library’s 70,000-plus store of books that would allow access for all – including those in wheelchairs.

Following detailed consultation, the mobile storage systems were planned with non-standard extra wide aisles. At 1800mm, these not only allowed full wheelchair access, but allowed a large enough turning circle to accommodate motorised wheelchairs, such as the one used by MA student Fay Hart (pictured).

Bruynzeel’s electronic system is easy to use. Its Dynamic controller allows almost anyone to access the mobile shelving aisles, including students with physical disabilities. All Library shelving units, whatever their load, move instantaneously if required. The control panels can been sited at low height enabling the button to be reached by wheelchair users.

”We’re very happy with the shelves themselves,” said Simon Harper. ”We have facilities for everybody, not just for people with disabilities. Bruynzeel has helped us achieve a high standard of provision for all students at the library.”


  • DDA compliant shelving installation
  • One-touch electronically controlled mobile units
  • Fast access and retrieval of books for students
  • Multiple in-built safety features
  • Conforms to BS 4971:2017
  • 1800mm aisles allow powered wheelchairs to turn through 360 degrees

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