A Change of Scene – Study Spaces

So we’re halfway through the first semester and there’s no hiding from it any longer – this academic year is now well and truly underway. The lecturers have done away with their introductory niceness in an effort to win your favour… module opt-outs have been and gone. And now they get down to business – a 2,200-word analytical essay on existential philosophy due next Friday, please. Suddenly that deadline that seemed oh so far off is now looming over you like a ghastly nightmare that you just can’t shake.

And whilst I may not be able to help you with your rocket launch simulation for an engineering module (trust me, I’ve got fast approaching due dates of my own), I’m a firm believer that an epic workspace can help you produce an epic assignment. And that is something that I can help you with.

First up on the list is the British Library. Now, this may sound like the last place in London that you would expect to enjoy a groovy atmosphere to help calm your pre-deadline nerves, as the institutional name initially appears uber austere. However, as soon as you enter the building, you’ll understand why (for me) it’s up there with some of the best study spaces in London Town. The colour palette is photogenic and neutral; it definitely has minimalist, feng shui vibe to it, which helps to foster a calming and serene environment. So, it’s the perfect destination if it’s time to really knuckle down and get your head into gear. And clearly, I’m not the only Londoner who thinks that the British Library is the ideal study spot – there are plenty of other like-minded people working there too. From students to creators, from businessmen to someone who just wants to curl up with a good read, the British Library is suited to all; and because of this, the space really makes you focus. And it’s not just a cool place to study in, it’s also a really epic space – there is a touch of art deco to it, with bold white staircases that throw you back in time. And that’s just the main entrance; there are plenty of other study spaces (which are increasingly stricter if you need it) housed within the British Library. Last but not least, if it’s inspiration that you’re lacking, being nestled amongst the largest national published collection in the world is likely to lend a much welcomed helping hand.

Brick Lane’s Hanbury Hall fosters a very similar environment to the British Library in that, it too, favours a neutral colour scheme and a studious aura, only on a considerably smaller scale. Hanbury is my personal favourite – not only because they sell the most divine blueberry cake and coffee – but because it is both a workspace and a café, which means that a little natter here and there is perfectly acceptable. Because of this, Hanbury Hall is the perfect destination if you’re planning to study with a group of mates, or if you’ve got an uber-serious study date pencilled in. Having said that, there have been many occasions where I’ve made a solo trip, as it’s comfortable and chilled out, whilst the vibe urges you to stay focused. The fact that Hanbury is a converted chapel means that it, much like the British Library, benefits from tall ceilings and a spacious feel, which doesn’t go amiss when you’re looking for a peaceful and tranquil place to help you rack your brains – it’s beautiful. And last, but not least, the fact that Charles Dickens visited Hanbury regularly to hold public readings has got to win you a few marks, surely?

Next up on the list is the Barbican Library. Now if any of you reading this are avid supporters of CUB’s London edit, you’ll know that I am a massive fan of the Barbican Centre. And for good reason – it’s groovy, it’s fun, and it’s all things art and culture… four things that I just can’t pass up. The Barbican Library promotes a cool and collected atmosphere as it marries rows and rows of books, spoken word recordings, DVDs, CDs, and scores with the infamous brutalist architecture. In addition, if you’re looking to be inspired, I can confidently claim that being at the creatively vibrant Barbican Centre is not going to do you any harm. If you’re anything like me, simply a brief visit to this performance hub will appeal to your creative senses. Much like the British Library, the primary audience that the Barbican appeals to are artistic, imaginative, and focused individuals. And so, if you’re looking for somewhere that will get you inspired and concentrated – even if it is to write your medieval history paper – the Barbican Library (in fact, almost anywhere in and around the Barbican Centre) will most definitely fit the bill.

The spaces that I’ve listed above are suited both to individual and group study. However, if it’s a slightly more informal vibe that you’re after, try Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch – a groovy café that favours industrial décor, but is still very comfortable for a couple hours’ work – and with epic coffee to boot. Alternatively, check out Shoreditch’s FIX 126, which definitely does the legendary pairing of essay writing and coffee drinking justice.

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