The Library of Birmingham is a transparent glass building. Its delicate filigree skin is inspired by the artisan tradition of this once industrial city. Elevators and escalators dynamically placed in the heart of the library forms connections between the eight circular spaces within the building.
35,000 m2 library with adult and childrens library, study centre, music library, community health centre, multimedia, archives, Shakespeare Memorial Room, offices, exhibition halls, cafes and lounge space, new shared auditorium (300 seats) with neighbouring Repertory Theatre and urban plan for Centenary Square this is the Library’s program.
The functions and attention to sustainability in terms of energy and architecture rank well in the new set of rules that have invested the European’s public buildings in recent times.
Mecanoo manages to give a convincing answer to a lot more careful and strict building’s regulations. The modeling of the skin that covers the building adds force to the character of the architecture, which was confirmed in the careful placement of the interior spaces and functions.
For Stephen Bayley from The Telegraph “the state of public building is a measure of a nation’s psychic health”, to which he offers a less than positive diagnosis for Birmingham Library. Describing it as more of an advertisement than a building, his interpretation of the clients’ motives was to “claim a hip Mecanoo building as a metropolitan trophy” rather than create a space purely for reading and learning. Suggesting that “this all goes back to Bilbao, where Frank Gehry’s famous building is not really an art gallery”, Birmingham’s latest public building is a result of the city chasing “the Guggenheim Effect with a demand for popular monuments”.
The library is projected onto the internal square, located in the basement, that becomes a meeting place but also stage performances. The building is conceived as a 24-hour machine 24 can provide adequate response to the needs of citizens that often very different targets.