dan pearson studio

Lambeth Palace Library & Archive





The place

The new library and archive at Lambeth Palace designed by Wright & Wright Architects is currently under construction. Taking the form of an inhabited wall the building houses and protects the extensive collection established by Archbishop Bancroft in 1610, and shields the garden from the noise and pollution of Lambeth Palace Road.

From the terrace immediately behind the Palace paths lead to formal terraces, bordered lawns, gravel paths and rose gardens. Beyond is a parkland-style garden with open lawns, ornamental and specimen trees while to the far north of the site is a wild garden, complete with woodland, habitat areas, beehives and a late 20th century pond, where the new library and archive is sited.

The gardens are recorded on the national register of Historic Parks and Gardens by English Heritage for their Special Historic Interest. The Palace is Grade I listed and the gardens are Grade II listed. The site also stands within the Lambeth Palace Conservation area.

The brief

The team’s vision has been to design a building which strengthens the existing built fabric and a landscape that enhances the existing characters and habitats. The brief we formulated was to develop the qualities of the existing garden to form a rich wildlife setting underpinned by a framework of native plants and carefully planned naturalistic plant communities.

The design

The garden brings together the Library and the Palace buildings yet, whilst this link is important, more so is the separation. To achieve this balance, filtered views have been proposed requiring the removal of a number of trees and their replacement with a mix of native woodland trees and shrubs, resulting in a soft visual connection. Tree and shrub species have been selected with small or cut-leaved canopies to open up and enrich the qualities of light in the garden.

Lambeth Palace gardens form part of a Borough Grade II Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and contains a number of species and habitats present in the Local Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Working closely with ecologists, Biodiversity by Design, existing habitat qualities have been documented to set an ecological baseline for the scheme which will be built upon to augment existing habitats to encourage additional fauna to the garden.

A wetland glade immediately in front of the building offers a rich contribution to local biodiversity and, while the existing pond supports a number of wildlife species, its enhancement, together with the introduction of native wildflower meadow, will see habitats greatly improved and enriched.

The Church Commissioners of England

Wright & Wright Architects


Construction, to be completed in Summer 2020

Wright & Wright Architects