By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.

Close

Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Close

Mecanoo unwraps Birmingham City Library

Dutch practice Mecanoo’s £193 million Birmingham City Library opens to the public next week (3 September).

The controversial building stands in Centenary Square, between Baskerville House (above right) and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (REP, above left) on the site of a former car park. The nine-storey landmark will replace John Madin’s soon-to-be-demolished Brutalist 1970s building as the city’s central library.

Clad with a skin of overlapping aluminium rings ‘inspired by the artisan tradition of this once industrial city’, the facade was criticised by CABE for ‘not having evolved beyond an initial abstract idea’ and for failing to have a major practical function (AJ 08.10.09).

Internally the 35,000m² library is arranged around a circular atrium that changes in size as it rises through the building.

A ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage, which contains the city’s collection of archives, photography and rare books, occupies two upper levels of the building, with the Shakespeare Memorial Room, a Victorian reading room lined with wood from the first Birmingham Central Library at the top of the building. Two roof gardens allow visitors to look down into the square, where an amphitheatre acts as a performance space. A new flexible studio theatre is shared with the recently refurbished 1971 REP building next door.

Mecanoo, headed by shortlisted AJ Woman Architect of the Year 2013 Francine Houben, won a competition to design the library in 2008, seeing off big names including Foster + Partners, OMA, Wilkinson Eyre, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Hopkins and Foreign Office Architects.

Project data

Design 2008-2009
Execution 2010- 2013
Client Birmingham City Council
Structural and mechanical engineer Buro Happold,
Design Mecanoo
Interior Mecanoo
Theatre consultant Theateradvies
Design manager Davis Langdon and Schumann Smith
Contractor Carillion Building
Planning consultant GVA Grimley
Project cost £193,000,000

 

 

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters