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Six battle it out for Walsall library

London-based FAT is among the six shortlisted practices in the contest to design a new community library in Bentley, in Walsall, West Midlands.

The firm is joined in the final by Aaron Evans Architects from Bath; Featherstone Associates; London’s McMorran and Gatehouse Architects, Panter Hudspith Architects and Sjölander da Cruz Architects.

Organised by the RIBA Competitions office for Walsall Council, the contest attracted 72 entries including submissions from Sri Lanka and the US.

The practices were judged primarily on both their design creditentials and their ‘ability to engage with the local community and other stakeholders to ensure a sense of pride and ownership in the library building.’

It is hoped the new building will act as a ‘high-quality design precedent’ for future developments in the deprived area of western Walsall.

Explaining the background to the contest, jury panel member and council cabinet member for regeneration Adrian Andrew said: ‘We live in very exciting times and I’m sure that we will have a new landmark building in Bentley to be proud of.

‘We have the iconic New Art Gallery here in Walsall, so we are no strangers to landmark buildings.’

He said: ‘One of the really great things about the Bentley Library project is that there is a tremendous amount of community participation. That’s important as they are the ones who will live and use the building.’

All six schemes will go on anonymous public exhibition in late January next year.

A winner, which will be selected by a jury including community members, council representatives and RIBA Adviser Chris Haddon of Haddon Few Montuschi, is expected to be announced in February.

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