Hague Opens University of Greenwich Site

First Secretary of State, Rt Hon William Hague MP praised Britain’s universities as ‘one of our nation’s most distinctive contributions to the world’ as he officially opened the University of Greenwich’s new library and academic building, this week.

The former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs toured the building’s facilities before delivering a speech addressing the importance of universities as champions of British values such as intellectual enquiry, high academic standards and civic engagement both domestically and overseas.

Numerically, the University of Greenwich is one of London’s most international universities with students from more than 140 countries. The £80 million building is home to the University’s main research and study library, as well as the Department of Architecture & Landscape and the Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts.

Built by contractors, Osborne and designed by Dublin based heneghan peng architects, with the building extends the university into the heart of Greenwich and creates a new landmark for the town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One extraordinary and significant feature is the landscaped green roof which is almost the same area as twelve tennis courts, making it Europe’s largest teaching and learning green roof. Roof facilities include a wetland, climate-controlled greenhouses, a vegetable grid for research into food cultivation and urban farming, arid planting and herbaceous landscapes as well as test areas for screening plants, soil types and irrigation regimes. The roof also houses the UK’s first purpose-built algaeponic and aquaponic rooftop units.

These extend the UK’s capabilities for ground breaking research in several important areas including biodegradable fuels, carbon-capture, biotic building materials and sustainable urban farming. Dominating one side of the building, the library provides students, academics and researchers with access to over 130,000 hard copy volumes as well as a state-of-the-art digital learning environment.

The comprehensive wifi and world-class online research resources, the library attracts more than 3,000 students every day and is able to provide a 24/7 service during exam and assessment schedules. The university is justifiably proud of its commitment to civic engagement.

The ground floor is open to the public and provides visitors with two exhibition galleries (The Stephen Lawrence Gallery and the larger internal Project Gallery), a café and a community drop-in centre, which provides expert legal advice on employment and business law and family legal advice. The University has also provided space and customers for a local business helping to support Greenwich’s economy.

Speaking at the opening event, William Hague emphasised the creativity and innovation of the building’s facilities and highlighted that it is these qualities that put Britain’s universities at the forefront of global education. The combination of design and function and the attention to the needs of the users, not just today’s students and teachers but also tomorrows’ creates an atmosphere of ambition and achievement.

First Secretary of State, Rt Hon William Hague MP said: “It is an honour to join in opening this spectacular new Library and Academic Building, which sends an extremely strong message about the future of the University of Greenwich, and of Greenwich itself.”

“The University of Greenwich has one of the largest bodies of international students of any London university. The mingling of students from around the world brings together ideas and experiences derived from many different cultures, enriching the life of this University and creating a web of connections around the globe. These connections are a huge asset and advantage for our country, enabling the exchange of ideas across borders, religions and cultures, and the transmission of the democratic values and ideals fostered here in Britain.”

“The strength and attractiveness of a British university education is one of our nation’s most distinctive contributions in the world. The fact that Britain remains the first destination of choice for thousands of aspiring students around the world enriches and strengthens our universities, the future of our economy and our influence in the world.”