Birmingham Library Building, Architect, West Midlands Design by Mecanoo, Picture, Winner, Opening, Image
Birmingham Library by Mecanoo
Key Cultural Development in the Midlands, England, UK, design by Dutch Architects Mecanoo
26 Jun 2014
Design: Mecanoo, Architects, NL
New Birmingham Library
Playing an important role in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, the new Library of Birmingham is an impressive and bold addition to the city. It has set a precedent for the scale of the buildings on the square, which helps to animate the place and stipulate a sense of enclosure. For the city, this is a significant public sector investment, which has not only provided a new integrated public library but also helped to regenerate the city’s cultural heart and helped link the Westside to the city core.
Its intriguing section connects the building’s internal atrium to the square outside, creating a number of levels where users can enjoy the spaces. The journey through the building reveals itself through an interlocking atrium, connecting a range of volumes and providing glimpses of natural light.
From the ‘Harry Potter’ rotunda to the ‘Willy Wonka’ glass lift, the library is a journey of discovery and fun, for all ages and backgrounds. Its existence has bought millions of people into the city and demonstrated how powerful architecture can play a role in the lives of communities.
The interesting filigree on the elevations creates a strong sense of place and ever changing vistas from within. Externally, it is the signature of this landmark.
The elevated, landscaped gardens on the upper floors not only provide a sanctuary in an urban location but breath-taking views across the city.
The relationship to the Repertory Theatre including a 300-seat auditorium and reinstatement of the Shakespeare room are amongst some of the unique spaces in the new library.
The library is a world-class facility for a world-class city with formal and informal spaces for reading, relaxing, playing and participating in the library’s programme of events. It has become a heart to the city’s cultural destination, transforming Centenary Square from an interim space to a vibrant city square. It has also changed the traditional perception of a library where families and readers can spend a whole day learning and engaging.
New Library of Birmingham – Building Information
Client: Birmingham City Council
Contractor: Carillion Building West Midlands
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Services Engineer: Buro Happold
Contract Value: £186,000,000
Date of completion: May 2013
Gross internal area in sq m: 35000
New Birmingham Library images / information received 19062014
11 Jun 2013
New Birmingham Library Opening
Library of Birmingham Building Opening in September
On 3 September, the £188.8 m Library of Birmingham opens to the public. Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham will transform the city’s library service and become a major cultural destination. The Library of Birmingham is a flagship project of the Birmingham City Council’s 20 year Big City Plan, focusing on the regeneration of the city. For that reason architect Francine Houben has designed the Library of Birmingham to be a ‘People’s Palace’.
At 31,000 sqm it will be the largest public library in Europe. The ten-level library will share with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre a spacious entrance and foyer as well as a flexible studio theatre seating 300 people. The library houses world-class collections of archives, photography and rare books. Whilst the library´s precious collections are kept safe in a climatically controlled environment, many of the most important artefacts will be made accessible to the public for the first time online. A new gallery will have an exhibitions programme, enabling select parts of the collections to go on display.
A series of interlocking rotundas draw visitors into a journey through the library. 10,000 visitors a day are expected to read, meet, learn and unwind on one of the two garden terraces. The most public of buildings, a library, has been designed to interweave with the most public of spaces, the square. Extending into Centenary Square, the music rotunda, an outdoor amphitheatre, provides a performance space for music, drama, poetry reading and storytelling.
The Library of Birmingham has been designed to achieve a BREEAM excellent rating, evident in the natural ventilation and daylight of the rotundas.
15 Sep 2011
New Birmingham Library Topping Out
Library of Birmingham celebrates Topping Out
On 14 September 2011, Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, laid the last piece of concrete on the highest point of the new Library of Birmingham at the official Topping Out ceremony. This is a significant marker in the construction of the new £188.8 million building, designed by Mecanoo architects, and due to open in 2013.
Library of Birmingham – Topping Out photos:
photos from Mecanoo
The Topping Out took place at the rotunda on the summit of the building, which will eventually house the Shakespeare Memorial Room, originally a feature in the Victorian Library and currently in Birmingham Central Library. The Shakespeare Memorial Room will be located alongside a viewing gallery giving panoramic views across the city. The Topping Out was also celebrated with the first performances in the Library’s outdoor amphitheatre in Centenary Square, with an appearance by a cappella quintet Black Voices and by members of the company from the Repertory Theatre, who performed extracts from Shakespeare and from their current production Tom Stoppard’s ‘Travesties’.
Library of Birmingham – Topping Out photos:
photos from Mecanoo
The Library of Birmingham will comprise of 10 levels, with nine above ground and a lower ground floor. It is being constructed using 21,000m³ of concrete in the frame, enough to fill more than eight Olympic sized swimming pools. The frame is reinforced by 3,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement, the equivalent weight of around 35,750 average UK men. 30,000m³ of material, enough to fill 60,000 bath tubs, had to be dug out of the basement. The building will feature a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, the gateway to both the Library and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, to which the new Library will be physically connected.
image Courtesy of Birmingham City Council © Hayes Davidson
There will also be a new flexible studio theatre, a lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor elevated garden terraces. A ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage will occupy two levels of the building, within which the city’s internationally significant collection of archives, photography and rare books will be stored. A new state-of-the-art exhibition space will open up public access to the collections for the first time. The exterior of the building, from the first to the eighth floor will be wrapped with an intricate metal façade, echoing the tunnels, canals and viaducts which fuelled Birmingham’s industrial growth. Besides the Shakespeare Memorial Room and the new shared studio theatre with neighbouring Repertory Theatre, Birmingham’s 35,000m² new library will comprise a study centre, music library, community health centre, multimedia, archives, offices, exhibition halls and cafes.
New Birmingham Library from crene:
photo : Paul Reynolds
10 Aug 2011
New Birmingham Library – Facade
First section of the new Library of Birmingham’s striking façade is installed
The first section of the new £188.8 million Library of Birmingham’s striking façade was lifted onto the building today (Wednesday 10 August). The delicate metal filigree, which will wrap around the new Library, was fixed to the glazed exterior facing out onto Birmingham’s Centenary Square.
Passers-by will now be able to watch from Centenary Square as the remaining panels are fitted to the building over the coming months. One by one, each segment will be hoisted onto the building by crane and affixed to a bespoke steel bracket.
The design for the Library’s exterior echoes the gasometers, tunnels, canals and viaducts which fuelled Birmingham’s industrial growth. Featuring a series of interweaving circles of two different sizes, the overlapping aluminium rings will extend across the building from the first to the eighth floor. Each imposing piece will be formed of 5.4m diameter black rings, with silver circles of 1.8m diameter attached.
images from Library of Birmingham
Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “With two years to go until the Library of Birmingham opens its doors, we are at a hugely exciting point in the project with the installation of this stunning external façade. The new Library will be an iconic landmark, creating a major new cultural destination that will raise the city’s profile across the country and around the world. The building is progressing at a spectacular rate and this is testament to the skill and hard work of the hundreds of people helping to drive the project forward.
“With the installation of this façade, we can now begin to visualise what the final building will look like and imagine the impact this stunning development will have on both Centenary Square and the city as a whole. This innovative, highly sustainable building is spearheading what a library can and should be in the future and I am thrilled by the considerable progress that has been made so far.”
Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham, due to open in Summer 2013, will comprise of 10 floors, with nine above ground and a lower ground floor. The building will comprise a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, the gateway to both the Library and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, a new flexible studio theatre, a lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces.
A ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage will occupy two levels of the building, within which the city’s internationally significant collection of archives, photography and rare books will be stored. A new state-of-the-art exhibition space will open up public access to the collections for the first time. This golden box will be formed from gold coloured anodised aluminium panels, the metallic finish changing hue depending on weather and sunlight conditions. The archives storage will also be surrounded by high performance insulation to protect the Library’s archive collections.
At the summit, a rooftop rotunda will house the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which was originally part of Birmingham’s Victorian library, and a viewing gallery where visitors will be able to look down at the city below. An outdoor amphitheatre in Centenary Square will also provide a performance space for music, drama, poetry reading storytelling and more, providing a vibrant new dimension to Centenary Square.
Francine Houben, Founding Partner of Mecanoo Architecten, went on to say: “With the circular pattern of the metal framework the Library of Birmingham honours the city’s industrial heritage, in particular the craftsmanship in metal work. For me the circles symbolise unity, and relate well to the purpose of the metal frieze, unifying the different functions within the building with one gesture and expressing openness to the public.”
Simon Dingle, Operations Director at Carillion, the construction partner for the Library of Birmingham, said: “Carillion is proud to be working on this landmark project in Birmingham. The commencement of this phase of work is a milestone in the construction of the library, which will transform the appearance of the structure dramatically. With our strategic partners we will remain committed to supporting schemes that benefit the local area, whether through increasing employment and training opportunities or supporting local community initiatives, maximising the potential created by the construction phase”.
To explore the new Library before it opens 2013 go to www.birmingham.gov.uk/libraryofbirmingham/virtual to view it in Second Life. For more information about the Library go to www.libraryofbirmingham.com
About the Library of Birmingham
The Library of Birmingham will be a major new cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries. It opens in 2013.
The Library of Birmingham will provide a showcase for the city’s internationally important collections of archives, photography and rare books. New facilities including state-of-the-art gallery space will open up public access to the collections for the first time. It will also be home to a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive. Other facilities will include a new flexible studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre and other informal performance spaces, a recording studio, and dedicated spaces for children and teenagers. By harnessing new technology, everyone from Birmingham to Beijing, Bangalore and beyond will be able to access the Library of Birmingham’s world-class resources. More than three million visitors are expected each year, and millions more online.
Described by its architect Francine Houben as a ‘people’s palace’, the Library of Birmingham will be highly accessible and family-friendly. It will deliver excellent services through collaboration between the library, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP), partners and communities. It will provide a dynamic mix of events, activities and performance together with outstanding resources, exhibitions and access to expert help for learning, information and culture. As a centre of excellence for literacy, research, study, skills development, entrepreneurship, creative expression, health information and much more, the Library of Birmingham will change people’s lives.
The Library of Birmingham : Architectural Approach
The Library of Birmingham will occupy a key site in the heart of Birmingham. Located on the northern edge of Centenary Square, the city’s largest public square, the Library of Birmingham will stand between the 1970s Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the 1930s grand Baskerville House.
Key to the Mecanoo design is the principle that the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Library of Birmingham and Baskerville House will together form an ensemble of three distinct building identities fronting Centenary Square. Baskerville House, a monumental limestone building designed in 1936, The REP, a concrete clad building designed in 1964, and the Library of Birmingham, designed in 2009, a transparent glass building wrapped in a delicate metal filigree, inspired by the rich and proud history of this former industrial city with a tradition of craftsmanship.
These three complementary characters will define and influence the public space of Centenary Square on a more human and intimate scale. According to Mecanoo’s proposed design, Centenary Square will change into a public space with three different realms: monumental, cultural and entertainment. These three palazzos will be a part an urban narrative experience from different periods of Birmingham’s urban history. Pedestrians will walk along what Mecanoo calls ‘the red line’, the busiest pedestrian route of the city, which connects the Bullring, New Street Station, Victoria Square, Centenary Square, through the International Conference Centre towards the red and blue brick Canal district.
Canopy and Amphitheatre
A large canopy announces the new shared entrance to the Library and The REP while providing shelter below and above creating a public city balcony from which to watch events on the square. Additionally, a grand circular open-air amphitheatre creates a dramatic visual link between the library’s lower ground level and Centenary Square, and provides natural light and an outdoor space for staging events. Above the entrance canopy, the building volume steps respectfully away from Baskerville House. The volume reduces again higher up, this time stepping away from Cambridge Street and The REP to create space for a garden of the senses with panoramic views.
Experiential journey through rotundas
Mecanoo introduces an experiential journey through the Library. Escalators and travelators dynamically placed in the heart of the building interconnect circular voids. These overlapping rotundas create constantly changing vistas as visitors ascend to the public levels while passing by other levels such as archives storage and staff areas. The rotundas not only provide way finding through sightlines but also natural light and ventilation. The changing atmospheres provide varied and multiple opportunities for unexpected collective encounters and diverse social and learning experiences.
The circle is a leading theme for the Library of Birmingham; the amphitheatre, the patterned metal façade, the rotundas and the layout of the elevated gardens. As the one of the simplest and most fundamental forms known to man, the circle is 30 understood and recognised equally by someone coming from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia or the Americas. For Mecanoo the archetypal form of the circle embodies universality and timelessness. This new building symbolizes what Birmingham is: a global city with a local heart.
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
The REP, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with its unique and beautiful auditorium will be kept and renovated. The back of house area facing the City Centre Gardens will be demolished and updated with state of the art accommodations for loading and unloading. New workshops, staff accommodations and a shared 300-seat theatre and foyer space will be created for both The REP and the Library.
BREEAM excellent rated building
The Library of Birmingham is being designed to achieve a BREEAM excellent rating. To accomplish this, a variety of energy saving techniques will be adopted. Although the library is a transparent building it will maintain energy efficiency through the careful selection of materials and the use of mass and shading in the design detailing. At the same time the design is such as to invite natural daylight deep in the building.
The new library is designed to draw people from not only the local population, but from all over the world as visitors to Birmingham, a city reborn as a cultural destination. The Library of Birmingham is designed to be a place for the dissemination of ideas and information, a social heart of the city; a second home for Birmingham’s diverse community.
24 Mar 2011
New Birmingham Library – Criticism
Architect John Madin, 86, who designed the ‘brutalist’ Birmingham Central Library, has attacked its £193 million replacement by Mecanoo as a waste of money and not fit for purpose.
image courtesy of Birmingham City Council
John Madin, described as the ‘master of post-war architecture in Birmingham’, designed the iconic landmark in the late 1960s. But now it is set to be knocked down and the Library of Birmingham built in its place.
But the future of the Central Library looks bleak after the Government agreed to grant a Certificate of Immunity from listing the library building allowing the council and developers Argent to push ahead with a proposed redevelopment of Paradise Circus.
John Madin said: “They are spending all this money on a new library which is no better than the existing one. Eighty per cent of it will not have natural light and does not meet the standards of the existing building. They asked me to do the design and now they are simply knocking it down. I just think it’s disgraceful.”
John Madin, was in Birmingham for the launch of ‘Twentieth Century Architects: John Madin’, a book exploring many of his designs including Central Library. Alan Clawley, author of the book, hopes Central Library can be saved. “Central Library is one building that should be kept. Don’t replace something until you know you have something better to replace it. While it’s still there, there’s still hope.”
9 Dec 2010
New Birmingham Library – Internal Images
NEW IMAGES OFFER A LOOK INSIDE THE LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM
9th December 2010: As the first anniversary of the start of building work at the Library of Birmingham approaches, new design images released today offer a first look inside the building.
images courtesy of Birmingham City Council
With the main service cores of the building now in place and the lower floor structures beginning to take shape, the images, produced by architects Mecanoo, provide members of the public with a preview of what can be expected when the library opens its doors in 2013.
The two new images show a concept view of the new outdoor amphitheatre in Centenary Square, as well as a first look at the central rotunda inside the library.
Operating as a main focal point of the building, the central rotunda features a breathtaking wall of books across several floors, with the image showing an improved environment with user-friendliness at its core. Wide travelators and escalators provide links between floors, while spacious public areas are flooded with natural light.
The outdoor amphitheatre, meanwhile, promises to become a hugely popular feature of the new building upon completion. Accessible from the music and children’s sections of the Library of Birmingham, the amphitheatre will provide the perfect space for outdoor performance and activity which can be viewed by onlookers in the above Centenary Square.
Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I helped start the building work at the Library of Birmingham in January amid weather conditions not dissimilar to those we have seen recently, and it’s remarkable to see how much progress has been made since then. The project is running on time and with savings in the budget, and this is testament to the hard work of the project team and our construction partners.
“The images released today prove that the Library of Birmingham will be a people’s palace at the heart of the city, offering the clearest indication of what the building will offer upon completion.
“We now look ahead to 2011, which promises to be another year of remarkable progress. Construction milestones in the next year will include the topping out of the concrete frame, the installation of glazing, and the application of the distinctive frieze, and I’m confident that the public will be delighted with the results as this world-class building continues to take shape.”
In addition to the newly released images, the new year will see the unveiling of a new ‘flythrough’ video which will offer the most in depth look so far inside the Library of Birmingham.
New features to be included in the library include a teenage zone for young people to relax, meet friends and chill out, and a contemplation room for prayer and quiet thought.
The building will also boast two garden terraces, providing the idyllic setting to read, relax, or to enjoy the stunning views across the city.
Meanwhile, accessibility will be greatly improved thanks to wide, level access from Centenary Square, a spacious open plan foyer and generous circulation routes. In addition, four public lifts will be large enough for wheelchair and pushchair manoeuvres.
Planning Permission Granted for New Birmingham Library
26 Nov 2009
Planning permission was today granted for the £193 million Library of Birmingham, paving the way for the groundbreaking building to open its doors to the public by 2013.
Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council commented:
“For the second time in a week Birmingham’s aspiration to transform the ‘West Side’ of the city, from the ICC through to the Council House, have been handed a massive boost.
“The new Library of Birmingham will be an iconic landmark, and a testament to the role we will play in the 21st century as a truly global city. I am delighted that today’s decision supports our plans to push forwards, and start building.
“We are juxtaposing culture and regeneration on a far greater scale than any other UK city. Through the strategic investment of £193m, into a landmark for the region, we will lever in millions of pounds of investment. Already people are excited about the confidence we have in our future, and want to be a part of our story.
“This is excellent news for Birmingham, and I look forward to enjoying the new Library and Repertory Theatre when they open in 2013.”
Library of Birmingham – Artists impression of approach from Centenary Square
image courtesy of Birmingham City Council
Library of Birmingham – Artists impression of Cambridge Street
image courtesy of Birmingham City Council
Library of Birmingham – Artists impression of Centenary Square
image courtesy of Birmingham City Council
The library will occupy a prime site on Centenary Square between the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) and Baskerville House and is a major flagship for the regeneration of the city which will create 250 consutruction jobs including at least 25 apprenticeships.
Integrated with The REP at ground floor and mezzanine levels, it will create a unique centre for learning, information and culture which is anticipated to attract up to 10,000 visitors a day, doubling the current figure of almost 5000 per day at the existing Central Library.
A grand circular open-air amphitheatre in front of the building will create a dramatic visual link between the Library at Lower Ground Level and Centenary Square, providing natural light and a sheltered outdoor space for staging events.
A generous shared entrance to the Library and The REP will be sheltered below a public balcony, creating a magnificent space to watch events in the square. Above the balcony, the building volume steps away, creating a second open-air space, an elevated garden with spectacular views over the city.
The new building has been designed to function flexibly around rapidly developing new digital technologies, creating new opportunities for learning and access. It will provide increased space and improved climatic conditions for storage of the library’s world famous archives, collections of photography, and Early and Fine Printing including rare treasures such as the Shakespeare First Folio of 1623 and JJ Audubon’s Birds of America, one of the world’s largest books. Exhibition space will be dramatically increased to allow for improved public access to the archives and visiting exhibitions.
New Birmingham Library Designs Unveiled
2 Apr 2009
Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, today unveiled the design concepts for the new £193 million Library of Birmingham by the internationally acclaimed Dutch architects Mecanoo Architecten.
Concept Design for Library of Birmingham, April 2009
images Courtesy of Birmingham City Council © Hayes Davidson
New Birmingham Library – Further Information
Birmingham Library Competition Shortlist – 7 practices, Mar 2008
Birmingham Central Library – 1974 building
Library Building design by Mecanoo – Library Technical University of Delft:
photograph : Christian Richters
Location: 3 In the Library, Birmingham, West Midlands, B3 3HQ, UK
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