Library of Birmingham

Birmingham Library - Concept

The new library, elliptical in form, is located in a new park that forms the heart of the re-born Eastside. The aspiration is to achieve a strong synergy between the park and the library, with park-related activities drawing people into the library and library events, in turn, animating the park. The main pedestrian route from the city centre, connecting the Bullring to Millennium Point, passes through the site, assuming the form of a great galleria between the main library and a separate block, known as the Co-locator building. This will house a range of community and cultural activities and will form a visual and acoustic barrier against the adjacent, heavily-used railway.

This new street allows views through to the interior of the library and serves to introduce other complimentary cultural and social activities within the Eastside area.

The library itself is characterised by a great roof which forms a canopy over the entire building, the street and the external park. Its concave top surface defines a ‘sky park’ containing areas for quiet study and contemplation. The roof is conceived as a simple, elegant and powerful form that defines the urban presence of the library and provides a high degree of flexibility and change without compromising the powerful presence of the overall form.

A new park, functioning as a connection point for pedestrian routes across the city, forms a key public open space in Eastside. The synergistic relationship between the park and the library will animate both, with activities in the park drawing visitors to the library and events in the library contributing to the life of the park outside.

The library, replacing the city’s failing 1960s building, is to be located in a new park that forms the heart of the re-born Eastside, an area previously isolated by ring-road and now the subject of regeneration development proposals.

The clarity of the diagrammatic arrangement, with the great oversailing canopy of the roof and the open, glazed perimeter walls allow a high degree of visual permeability. A twin masted tower, accommodating a lift up to the sky garden, also provides the library with an urban scale marker, visible from further afield.