The Hold, which is one of the 21 key delivery projects of the ‘Ipswich Vision’, should open its doors in time for the 900th anniversary of the Record Office’s oldest document in 2019. Located on the university’s north campus beside Ipswich’s historic waterfront, the new facility, The Hold, will house the bulk of Suffolk’s nationally and internationally significant archives and a range of archaeological records. As well as providing teaching and research space fit for the 21st-century, it will also form a unique visitor attraction and an important cultural resource for the community.
The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund  who have provided a grant to help the partners develop their proposals and apply for a delivery grant of over £10m later this year.

Suffolk County Council is working in partnership with the University of Suffolk to make this vision a reality; ‘The Hold’ will contain an auditorium, teaching spaces, fit-for-purpose public research facilities, state of the art storage for the archives themselves, as well as retail- and exhibition space and a café.

Architects Pringle Richards Sharratt have won the contract to develop the design for the new building. They will lead a team of consultants to develop the design, have a diverse portfolio including similar projects to The Hold, such as the Hull History Centre and the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.

The conceptual design uses different ground floor levels linked by stairs and a shallow ramp to accommodate the difference in level between the entrance at the northern and southern ends of the building. The ramp and stairs form part of a central spine which links the southern and northern ends (the public and academic areas) of the building; to the north the internal spine connects to an external paved area with a central island of soft landscaping. Pitched roofs clad in standing seam zinc cladding are to be used over the strong rooms and public search room; the remaining areas are to have flat roofs with a single ply membrane covering. As an alternative to the steel frame, consideration is being given to replacing all or part of the steel elements with glulam beams and columns and load–bearing walls of CLT construction.

Atom Consultants act as the Principal Structural Designers for the project, responsible for the design of all structural elements of the building, including foundations and superstructure. The Primary Structural Frame adapts a concrete structure for the Strong Room Area. Steel Frame is used for the Educational Facilities and Seminar Rooms. Glulam and CLT panels are used for the structure containing the Public Access Areas to enhance the visual aspects of the space. We are also undertaking Civil Engineering Design, which includes all underground drainage systems, retaining walls, paved areas and surface water attenuation. BIM is used throughout all aspects of our design to develop the design details and facilitate co-ordination with the Project Design Team.