Birmingham to open largest public library in UK
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Birmingham to open largest public library in UK

01 Sep 2013

The £189m Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square, designed by Dutch architectural firm Mecanoo Architecten, will open on 3 September 2013.

Library of Birmingham

The £189m Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square, designed by Dutch architectural firm Mecanoo Architecten, will open on 3 September 2013.

Situated next to Birmingham Symphony Hall and the ICC, the project, managed by Capita Symonds, was developed on land adjoining the Birmingham REP.

The library, which is part of Birmingham City Council’s 20-year Big City Plan, will feature gallery space, a new studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre and other performance spaces and a recording studio.

The 35,000m², ten-storey library, which is around 20% larger than the old central library building, faces one of three piazzas that features Centenary Square.

The building has a stack of four rectangular volumes, which are staggered to create several canopies and terraces.

Architect Francine Houben told Dezeen "I didn’t want to make a brick building, because we needed a lot of light, but I didn’t want to make a glass building either."

"It’s so beautiful to sit inside because of the reflections and the shadows, and the changing of the weather. It’s different from December to June," Houben said.

"The library is claimed to be the largest public library in the UK."

"We needed many ground floors so we introduced a ground floor, a mezzanine, a mid-lower ground floor and a mid-mid-lower ground floor in the form of gently descending terraces."

Sustainable features of the building include grey water systems and ground source heat pumps, and groundwater will be used as a source of renewable energy to reduce the library’s CO2 emissions.

The library is claimed to be the largest public library in the UK and the largest public cultural space in Europe.


Image: The Library of Birmingham was developed on land adjoining the Birmingham REP. Photo: courtesy of Birmingham City Council.