Located in the heart of the city, the Library of Birmingham’s eye-catching metal lattice was designed in reference to Birmingham’s “interlocking stories of industrial heritage, jewelry, people and knowledge.” The new modernized design is a sharp contrast with its predecessor’s Brutalist concrete form, swapping the old inverted ziggurat design with four staggered rectangular volumes held within a shimmering glass façade. Inside are ten floors: three of the main reading levels spiral out from a open rotunda, a focal point of the building; one floor is underground; the tenth is a rooftop rotunda housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room, designed in 1882.
A modern reincarnation of its predecessor the Central Library, the 35,000 square-meter Library of Birmingham commands a 20% larger footprint but with a 50% less demand for energy. As a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated building, the library incorporates grey water systems and ground source heat pumps. Two outdoor garden terraces also attract biodiversity and help with carbon sequestration.
The state-of-the-art library will be integrated with the existing Birmingham REP Theatre, and will share many new facilities, including a 300 seat auditorium, meeting and conference rooms, as well as a cafe and restaurant. Envisioned as the “social heart” of Birmingham, the new library will also offer 400,000 new books to an expected crowd of 3.5 million visitors a year.
Images via Christian Richters