Olisa library Fitzwilliam College

Building the new library

Building work was completed in 2009 on the £5 million Library & IT Centre - now The Olisa Library - designed by Edward Cullinan Architects.

Designed by 2008 RIBA Gold Medal Winner Edward Cullinan, the new library extends the 1959 Denys Lasdun College masterplan and creates a place for study that reflects the peaceful landscape and respects and enhances the adjacent architecture. 

The books were moved at the end of Michaelmas Term 2009 and the building was ready for use at the start of Lent Term 2010. It was officially opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh KG KT Chancellor of the University and Visitor of this College on April 19th 2010.

Phil Baney in the IT Department put together this one-minute time lapse film of the construction.


The new Library building provides 100% more reader spaces, 50% more computer spaces and 40,000 volumes on open access.

The stair-tower takes readers between the library floors and provides 'study alcoves' at half-landing levels, with views across the College.

Two flexible study spaces, with projection facilities, can each accommodate groups of up to 25.

The south tower has attractive semi-circular spaces on two floors, suitable for small-group study.

Some study spaces are allocated as permanent computer workstations, and laptop use is possible throughout the Library - wired and wireless network connections provide flexibility now and for the future.


The Olisa Library building was designed to exceed the latest building-regulation requirements for energy consumption and insulation levels. Large north-facing windows maximise natural daylight while minimising solar gain. The ventilation strategy and the passive environmental design both minimise the building's environmental impact. Reader comfort is achieved using a fresh-air heating system with low energy consumption.