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mecanoo unveils filigreed library of birmingham
original content
aug 29, 2013
mecanoo unveils filigreed library of birmingham


mecanoo unveils filigreed library of birmingham
image © christian richters

 

 

 

set to open next week, the ‘library of birmingham’ by mecanoo architecten is reportedly the biggest in europe, sporting a 186 million euro price tag. the architecture enlivens a previously underused centenary square, the largest in the city. the volumes behave like distinct palazzos and serve to both consolidate and express the multiple histories of the urban hub. the spatial narrative weaves together important epochs in the history of the city; the repertory theatre (rep), a 1960s concrete building, the library of birmingham, designed in 2009 and baskerville house, a listed sandstone building designed in 1936. the busiest pedestrian route in the city, what mecanoo calls the red line, leads pedestrians into centenary square. the cantilever of the library is not only a large canopy that provides shelter at the common entrance of the library of birmingham and the rep, but additionally forms a grand city balcony with views of the events and happenings on the square.


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters

 

 

 

the central architectural gesture, however, is primarily expressed with a rich and layered tectonic palette. expanses of glazing are met with a varied mesh of circular metal filigree, the shapes of which draw from the industrial region’s artisan tradition. elevators and escalators dynamically placed in the heart of the library form connections between the eight circular spaces within the building. these rotundas play an important role not only in the routing through the library  but also provide natural light and ventilation. the rooftop rotunda houses the shakespeare memorial room, designed in 1882. this victorian reading room is lined with wood from the first birmingham central library. its prominent position as a rooftop aerie makes this delicate room visible from the square. the rep with its unique and beautiful auditorium will be renovated. new workshops, staff accommodations and a shared theater and foyer space will be created for both the rep and the library.


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters

 

 

 

the library of birmingham is a BREAAM excellent rated building and incorporates grey water systems and ground source heat pumps. although the library is a transparent building, it maintains energy efficiency through the buffering capacity of the building mass and the atria. sun shading and reflective materials within the facades block the harsh rays of the sun during the height of afternoon while allowing natural daylight into the interiors. the ground floor benefits from the mass of the soil which provides buffering and insulation.


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters

 

 

 

the circular patio cut out of the square creates a protected outdoor space and invites daylight deep into the building. the building will incorporate a mixed mode and natural ventilation strategy. the façade will respond to external conditions and openings will allow fresh air intake and outflow. the addition of soft landscaped roof spaces will further enhance the immediate surrounding conditions.


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters


mecanoo: library of birmingham
image © christian richters

 

 


video courtesy of mecanoo

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