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FIRST LOOK

We Made That completes extension to Old Kent Road library

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The East Street Exchange has been completed by We Made That as an extension to East Street library, which the practice has also refurbished

The project builds on the practice’s previous work along East Street for Southwark Council and the Greater London Authority. The space is designed to boost activity and introduce new uses to the library such as community group meetings or local businesses.

We made that 113 east street library jakobspriestersbach 4151

We made that 113 east street library jakobspriestersbach 4151

The extension is characterised by a red corrugated façade with a perforated tower which aims to be a ‘beacon’ for the structure, visible from the Old Kent Road. Inside, the flexible space sits adjacent to a new study area and business space. The project also included the refurbishment of the 1960s library building and the implementation of new signage. 

Architect’s view 

This extension demonstrates a willingness by the local authority to reinvigorate community spaces through intelligent interventions. The East Street Exchange unlocks a new lease of life for this vital community asset, especially in the context of wide-scale change planned in the Old Kent Road Area Action Plan.

The interiors of the extension are built to prioritise flexibility of use within the space. Bespoke furniture has been designed with the potential to be ‘flat packed’ and stowed away on pegboard walls, clearing space for alternative set ups and functions. Refurbishment of the ’back of house’ facilities – including new publicly accessible toilets to replace the external, unheated staff toilet – now benefit all library users and out-of-hours users of the exchange. Large new windows, glazed doors and internal glazed screens maximise daylight within the exchange, while the internal reconfiguration of the library moves shelving and obstructions away from windows, allowing in light and making the space feel more generous.

The proportions and footprint of the extension create a distinct form change in comparison to the existing building: simple moves on the inside, a characterful and distinctive contribution to the neighbourhood on the outside.

Nisha Kurian, project architect, We Made That

We made that 113 east street library 02 axo

We made that 113 east street library 02 axo

Project data 

Start on site April 2018
Completion August 2018
Construction cost Exchange: £235,780; Library refurbishment: £42,700
Gross internal floor area Exchange: 80m²; Library refurbishment: 35m²
Construction cost per m² Exchange: £2,947; Library refurbishment: £1,220
Form of contract Traditional, GC Works without quantities 1998
Architect We Made That
Client London Borough of Southwark & Greater London Authority
Structural engineer Engineers HRW
M&E consultant OR Consulting
Quantity surveyor Stockdale
Artwork designer Maddison Graphic
Principal designer We Made That
Approved building inspector London Borough of Southwark
Main contractor Bolt & Heeks
CAD software used Vectorworks 

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