The aim was to create a stimulating and comfortable environment which could be available to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons is a state-of-the-art study and learning centre in the heart of the University of Manchester’s Library, based in its Oxford Road Campus.


Working with Kate Bulley and the interior team at Sheppard Robson Architects and Mark Valentine, the Project Leader for the University and his IT team, Southernsbroadstock invested over two years planning and refining the scheme before installation began. Due to the 24/7 aspect of the building, computer security was of paramount consideration and it was also a requirement that all cable management facilities were invisible.

The Solution.

Southernsbroadstock was awarded the contract and project managed the complete installation and co-ordination of the space planning to ensure that the positioning of all the furniture allowed access to power and date outlets and supply major items of furniture. The Learning Commons now offers a unique and comfortable working environment for independent and group study, with the inclusion of fixed workstations, extensive breakout style and flexible open plan areas with multimedia facilities and exclusive learning rooms available for group work.

“On the first day of opening, the speed gates recorded 2,735 entrances by 2,174 unique users. The following day, the numbers were up to 4,000 unique users. Unsurprisingly the feedback I’m getting about AGLC from everyone at the University is incredibly positive! Most importantly though, the students absolutely love it.”

Mark Valentine
Project Leader

Bespoke Desking & Power.

All the desking units, plus a large quantity of soft seating and refectory furniture, were fitted with Freemote units from F.G. Technology. The Freemote replicates all the standard controls of a CPU tower and can be fitted directly into work-surfaces, but allows the tower to be installed securely and safely anywhere within a radius of 20 metres.

In addition to the bespoke desking units, furniture was also sourced from a wide variety of leading UK and European manufacturers including Bene, James Burleigh, Spaceoasis and Connection Seating.

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