Countdown to 'The Library of Birmingham' - countdown to 11am launch

The Birmingham Post has reported that 11am Thursday 2nd April will see the launch of the designs for the new Library of Birmingham as Birmingham City Council ready to unveil designs for new library.

The building will be 20 per cent larger than the present library and will house the lending and reference libraries as well as the archives and will be physically connected to the REP which it will share foyer, catering and meeting spaces and a new 300-seat auditorium.

As I noted in my previous article, Countdown to 'The Library of Birmingham' - Mecanoo's ambitions, Mecanoo's creative director Francine Houben has visited Birmingham and met with the architect of the REP. She has also met historian Carl Chinn, undertaking walking tours of the city, in her visits over the past six months.

“What is unique about the Library of Birmingham is that firstly it will be connected to the Rep and secondly it will have the whole city archive in it,” she said. “It is really the memory of Birmingham in this building,” she said.

Terry Grimley, of the Birmingham Post, met Francine Houben, interviewing her on her work on the designs of the new library similarly to the interview reproduced from the Dutch The Daily Financial Paper. As Grimley notes, this is Mecanoo's first major work in the UK and making a success of the library will be important not just for the people of Birmingham but also for Mecanoo itself. Houben notes that currently 12 million people walk past the current library and that these people walking the 'red line' through Birmingham and that the library should engage in it's functions of archive, heritage and learning centre with these people.

“I want to bring something of the proud history back into this people’s palace. I look in a different way to other people at a city. For instance, I look at materials. You have all these limestone buildings and red and blue bricks which symbolise what’s in the earth around Birmingham. It’s a city of railways and viaducts and of course the canals.”She enthuses about the legacy of industrial metal structures, from gas-holders to cast-iron bridges across the canals.

On her first visit she was puzzled by the pedestrian route from the Radisson Hotel to the Rep, but then realised that there was a strong pedestrian route linking Brindleyplace to the Bull Ring, like a “red ribbon”, passing in front of the library site.“I feel it’s a city of ‘incidents’. We should not come up with another incident – let’s try to bring coherence".


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