Aluminium’s long and useful life makes it one of the most durable and thus one of the most sustainable building materials.
Excellent examples of this durability are the aluminium windows installed in the ‘New University Library’ at Oxford University nearly 80 years ago (pictured right). The building, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and, built between 1937 and 1939, was a much needed addition to the Bodleian Library whose collections are used by scholars from around the world.
Toby Kirtley, who is the Estates Projects Officer for the Oxford University Library Services, has been amazed at the quality of the windows which have been in the building for almost 80 years. Anodised aluminium windows were used throughout the library. The Estates Department undertake cleaning twice a year and only service a window should a piece of glass be broken and need replacing. The hardware is all original and has been designed with brass bushes for a good life expectancy. The aluminium casement windows and window furniture were supplied by James Gibbons Limited of Wolverhampton.
The library has recently undergone a £multi-million refurbishment and reopened as The Weston Library. The windows have only been cleaned and re-glazed as part of this project. Based on the durability of the anodised aluminium, the design team has decided that the anodised finish should be satisfactory for at least another 60 years. The refurbished library has won several prestigious awards and in July 2016, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) revealed that the Bodleian’s Weston Library was shortlisted for the 2016 Stirling Prize, one of the most iconic prizes in architecture.