The Keep has been open for nearly a month now and some of the staff at Brighton and Hove Libraries have been lucky enough to be given a tour of the building. Situated just off the Lewes Road, on the way out of Brighton as you turn off for Stanmer Park, the Keep is accessible by car or bus which stops outside, or you can catch a train to Falmer station which is a short walk away.
The Keep is a joint venture between Brighton and Hove City Council, the University of Sussex and East Sussex County Council. It is a world-class centre for archives, housing all the collections of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections.
Walking into the building you are immediately aware of the spacious layout, the reception area feels very light and open, it leads to lockers, toilets and a seating area where you can have refreshments or eat your packed lunch, there is not a café on site but ‘posh’ vending machines are about to be installed.
This area is called the ‘People Block’ and is open to the public, up to 270 visitors, as well as staff, can work and study here.
It is recommended that you register online to get a reader’s ticket which is required for items that need to be consulted in the ‘Reading Room’ at The Keep, otherwise you can only access the ‘Reference Room’ which has desk space for up to 115 visitors and access to computer terminals, microform readers and reference books.
There are also three meeting rooms which can be hired out individually, these rooms are adjoining and can be opened out into one big area for larger functions.
“On the first floor of the People Block there are offices, a digitisation suite and state-of-the-art conservation studio measuring 90 square metres for up to 35 staff and volunteers. The Air Handling Plant Room, which takes up the second floor, has an insulated, twin-skin metal composite roof, on which sit continuous solar panels to generate electricity and heat water. The external walls can be quickly unzipped, allowing internal plant to be removed, replaced and re-commissioned within 24 hours”.
“In addition to the innovative features already mentioned, The Keep’s sustainability strategy includes ‘living roofs’ planted with an indigenous native grassland mixture, the reuse of rainwater for flushing the toilets and low-energy light fittings. Energy-efficient elements are incorporated within the design of the building itself – thick walls, super-insulation, minimisation of solar gain and maximisation of day lighting – as well as use of Class A & A+ materials from the ‘Green Guide to Specification’. The Energy Centre, located away from the main building to reduce disturbances and potential fire risk, employs sustainable biomass fuel”.
“The Keep represents one of the most up-to-date and green archive buildings in the country, with an exceptionally low-carbon footprint. It has gained an ‘Excellent’ rating from the standard Environmental Assessment Method BREEAM, one of the first archive buildings in the UK to achieve this recognition”.
For more information please visit The Keep’s website here.