The Birmingham library opening comes a decade after of the opening of the Bullring, one of the sites that helped lead Birmingham’s retail-led regeneration. It cost a whopping £188m and last week was opened, standing in Birmingham city’s Centenary Square, forming an dubious new impression on the city’s skyline.
The new building covers 31,000 square metres over 10 levels. More than 400,000 books will be available to the public – which is more than double the previous library’s capacity. The building’s extraordinary façade of metalwork was designed to reference the city’s “industrial and artisanal” past, described as a “flagship project” of Birmingham City Council’s 20-year Big City Plan, and it has certainly received mixed reviews from Birmingham residents and architects alike.
The library was designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo after an international competitive process that attracted more than 100 tenders. Architect Francine Houben said grandly that she had designed a “People’s Palace” for the city. Although we feel that describing it as a ‘palace’ is open to debate.
The interior is made up of a series of interlocking circular halls. with daylight streaming in through the rooftop. There are two garden terraces overlooking the city, and an outdoor amphitheatre extending into the square in front. As architects in Birmingham, the team at Abacus Architects be interested to know whether you feel the new library and its architecture is a positive feature for Birmingham, or an unattractive blot on the skyline?