Jubilee Library, Brighton, by Bennetts Associates with Lomax Cassidy & Edwards, occupies two sides of a new city square and is the centrepiece of a regeneration scheme that will stitch back the fragmented streets of the North Laines area, close to the city centre.
The four-storey main facade is glazed, while other elevations are finished in hand-made glazed tiles in rich deep blues which are reminiscent of the mathematical tiles that are used in many local buildings.
The library has a formal plan, with ancillary spaces arranged around three sides of a main central hall, which accommodates most of the bookstacks and reading areas. The main hall is expressed as a self-contained concrete table structure which consists of two open-plan, double-height floors stacked one above the other and supported on eight elegant free-standing columns with fan-shaped heads. Air is fed through voids in the concrete floor slabs, supplying the perimeter rooms and the main space. The architects have exaggerated the sculptural quality of this central structure by separating it from the timber-clad walls so that it is surrounded by a full-height void on all sides. Bridges link the rest of the building to this central hall. There are three wind towers on the roof.
The essentially symmetrical plan is offset by the entrance lobby which lies to one side of the main facade, and a small café block which completes another side of the public square.
This is a PFI project in which the developer crosssubsidised the building with revenue from other development.
Joan Bakewell It states a great commitment to the city. It's good and inviting - it allows the community to look in. I think the circulation is very well planned.
Isabel Allen It's rational and elegant and welcoming and it's got real presence. But the flexibility demanded by the brief has stopped it from being a building which really celebrates books. The librarians love the fact that the bookcases can be put absolutely anywhere, but the random arrangement has been allowed to ruin what is actually a very beautiful space. The upper floor, where the bookcases are still arranged in a herringbone pattern, looks great. The glazed facade is absolutely right in social terms but I'm not sure that it's really appropriate for a building which is designed to house books.
Max Fordham A lot of passive solar architecture is about getting heat from the sun in the winter. You get three or four weeks of sun in the winter. If you get heat, you get bugger all. What's the glass doing? What the glass is really doing is letting in light. And actually, the electric lights are on and it's a very sunny day. The large areas of glass actually lose heat in the cold weather and you never get it back except in the summer, when it's a nuisance. If you allow there to be too much glass, you run the risk that the building will get too hot. It is a bit hot, but I bet the energy figures are quite good. On the whole, the energy is in the agenda effectively, and that's wonderful.
Jack Pringle It's a set piece; a very elegant box with a fabulous south-facing window and a huge mezzanine for a first floor, supported on beautiful white round columns with almost classical column heads. A great space for a library.
The black rain-screen ceramic tiles on the street façade are a nice homage to Brighton's mathematical tiles.
Piers Gough It's a very good building, and a very appropriate building. Most architects don't understand buildings. They rely on service engineers and other people to wrap it all up. But I think these architects really understand buildings and make sure it all works together.
Artists Kate Malone, Georgia Russell, Caroline Barton Subcontractors and suppliers Curtain walling and solar shading Portal;
ceramic tiling and windows LSC; plantroom cladding Doric Industrial Contracts;
roofi ng Roofl ine; windtowers Vision;
ceilings Tingleys Partitions and Ceilings;
brickwork and blockwork Owens Contracts; internal partitions Ideal Fendor Hansen; WC cubicles C & B Systems;
timber panelling NH Etheridge; kitchens The Symphony Group; balustrading Laidlaw; floor finishes Variety Floors;
decorations Everest Miles; electrical Begley Patten; mechanical Halsion; architectural/ sundry metalwork Iron Designs; concrete Gallaghers; in situ precast concrete plank Thermodek; curtain walling Schüco FW50; glazing Pilkington; ceramic tiling LockClad/Redbank; windows Technal;
ceramic glaze Robus Ceramics; ceilings SAS International; brickwork Baggeridge Brick; internal partitions Komfort; timber panelling Top Akustik; floor finishes DLW Linoleum, Burmatex Carpets, Dalsouple Rubber; stone floor Rocamat;
paints Biofa; aerofoil fins roof/glazed wall Levolux