Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

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

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Demolition of Madin’s Birmingham Central Library set to start

  • Comment

Birmingham City Council has confirmed that preparations for the demolition of John Madin’s brutalist Central Library in Birmingham will begin next month.

A spokeswoman for the authority said the internal strip-out of the structure, which opened in 1974, would start in January with external demolition work scheduled to begin in February.

Madin’s landmark ‘inverted ziggurat’ has been living on borrowed time since a 2009 decision not to list the structure was made by then-architecture minister Margaret Hodge.

Both English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society had called for the building’s preservation.

But Birmingham City Council had long planned to relocate library services away from Madin’s building in a bid to open up the gateway Paradise Circus area for new development.

Plans to build a new central library in the city’s Eastside district, close to the site earmarked for Birmingham’s High Speed Two rail terminal, foundered around a decade ago.

However a new location in Centenary Square was subsequently selected and it is now home to Mecanoo’s Stirling Prize-shortlisted £188.8million Library of Birmingham.

Ironically, the confirmation of a demolition schedule for the old Central Library came on the same day that Birmingham City Council floated new budget proposals that dramatically cut staffing and opening hours at its new Mecanoo designed-library.

The award-winning building, which was shortlisted for this year’s Stirling Prize (pictured below), only opened in 2013.

Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo

Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo

Previous story (AJ 21.12.12)

Bye bye Brum library: £450m Paradise Circus overhaul approved

Glenn Howells Architects has won approval for its £450 million makeover of Birmingham’s Paradise Circus, spelling the end for John Madin’s Birmingham Central Library

Developer Argent won ‘unanimous’ backing from Birmingham council’s planning committee and is set to submit detailed planning for the first stage at the end of 2013.

The large-scale, city centre redevelopment will cover 6.8ha of land between Centenery Square and Chamberlain Square includes the demolition of  the brutalist library (1974) designed by Madin who died in January this year (AJ 11.01.12).

In 2009 the Twentieth Century Society failed in a high-profile bid to get the city-centre concrete landmark listed. A replacement library, designed by Dutch practice Mecanoo, is nearing completion and is due to open its doors next year (2013).

The Birmingham Post reported Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn as saying he was ‘delighted’ that the city was ridding itself of the ‘inverted incinerator’ - a reference to Prince Charles’ claim that the library resembled a place for burning books rather than reading them.

The Howells’ scheme is pivotal to the council’s vision for the city and is key to Birmingham’s new Enterprise Zone and the delivery of the Big City Plan.

Argent’s Senior Project Director Rob Groves said: ‘The redevelopment of Paradise Circus has the potential to make the most significant impact on the city centre for a generation.

‘The site’s combined qualities of its central location and historic landmarks creates an unrivalled opportunity to create a sustainable, first class environment that will transform this key part of Birmingham city centre.’

Previous story (AJ 26.07.12)

Glenn Howells submits plans for £450 million makeover of Paradise Circus

Glenn Howells Architects has lodged a planning application for its £450 million makeover of Birmingham’s Paradise Circus

Submitted by developers Argent, the large-scale, city centre redevelopment will cover 6.8ha of land between Centenery Square and Chamberlain Square and will spell the end for John Madin’s Birmingham Central Library.

Howells has spent several years on the designs for the mixed-use site which involve the demolition of  the brutalist landmark and include a new home for the Birmingham Conservatoire. The new-look site will combine office space, retail, leisure, and civil and cultural amenities.

Glenn Howells said: ‘We have produced a masterplan that successfully combines a contemporary and sustainable approach to design, alongside the need to work sympathetically with the magnificent, historic civic buildings that lie adjacent to the site.’

The creation of linked pedestrian walkways and squares, traffic free settings and opened up views aims to revitalise an area of the city which is widely regarded as tired and unwelcoming.

‘This proposal puts people and the environment first by providing traffic-free roads and squares along with attractive vistas’ he said.


Improvements to the infrastructure in and around the site are also planned – connecting Paradise Circus with its surrounding districts and earlier redevelopment sites such as Brindley Place.

Rob Groves, senior project director at Argent, said the proposals have been well received. ‘This is a nationally important site and we are very excited about the opportunity to create a sustainable, first class environment that should transform a key part of Birmingham City Centre.’

If planning permission is granted, a detailed planning application for the first phase of work will be drawn up for submission later next year.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

AJ Jobs