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Competition: Gladstone’s Library, Flintshire

Gladstone's Library
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The RIBA has launched a contest for a major £4.5 million revamp and expansion of the Grade I-listed Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Flintshire in Wales

Up to five architect-led teams will be invited to participate in the design competition for the commission following an open pre-qualification round.

The project aims to attract a broader range of audiences to the 1902 English Gothic facility. It will redevelop the historic library and landscape created as an intellectual and spiritual legacy by former Liberal prime minister William Gladstone while also creating a ‘complementary but quite different’ hall to host an expanded programme of debates, lectures and events.

RIBA adviser to the competition Peter Clegg, of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said: ‘Gladstone’s library is a real national treasure, celebrating as it does one of our greatest prime ministers whose contribution to democracy, religious tolerance and human rights needs to be better understood.

‘There is a tremendous opportunity for architecture to help facilitate this with the refurbishment of their Grade I-listed building and a new extension that will house an exhibition space and cultural hub. It deserves to be a truly amazing project.’

Warden and director of Gladstone’s Library Peter Francis said: ‘Gladstone’s Library is a victim of its own success. The present Grade I-listed building was designed for books and a dozen guests. We are now, almost literally, bursting at the seams with over 20,000 visitors each year. This project, therefore, answers an urgent practical need for more space and facilities in a building of equal eminence.

‘On another level, Gladstone’s liberal values are needed in our increasing illiberal world. What he has to say about the need for the evolution of democracy, the primacy of human rights and religious tolerance is depressingly topical. This project will help us to see Gladstone not only as a great statesman of the Victorian era but as our contemporary.’

Gladstone served four terms as prime minister and four terms as chancellor of the exchequer during his 60 years in politics which reshaped the economic and democratic basis of Victorian society.

Gladstone’s Library was designed by John Douglas and completed in 1902 as a landmark structure to house the personal book collection of the former prime minister.

Today the building, which is the UK’s only prime ministerial library, holds more than 250,000 volumes and receives around 23,000 visitors each year. The site also has residential facilities.

The latest call for applications comes around two and a half years after Manchester-based OMI won an earlier contest to restore and expand the building.

The latest project aims to bring new audiences to the centre and will be dedicated to the three defining themes of Gladstone’s political career: human rights and genocide, the evolution of democracy, and religious tolerance.

The winning team will remodel and repair the Grade I-listed structure; deliver a sustainable ‘new hall’ featuring a shop, reception area, and lecturing and catering facilities; and provide new staff and visitor facilities including a six-bedroom study centre. The project is planned to complete in 2022.

The deadline for applications is 2pm, 10 April.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
No 1 Aire Street

Tel: 0113 203 1490
Email: riba.competitions@riba.org 

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