Library bookmarks planning application

Birmingham City Council has submitted a planning application for it's Library of Birmingham, replacing the current Central Library, with a height reduction following complaints it towered over neighbouring buildings. The plans follow images revealed earlier in the year by Dutch architects Mecanoo; The Library of Birmingham, Library of Birmingham Consultation. Parts of the planning application are available to download at with the planning site currently awaiting it's relaunch as part of the council's website redevelopment.

Mecanoo have lowered the height of the £193 million building from ten to nine stories to stop it dominating over adjacent seven storey Baskerville House and the Repertory Theatre which will be joined to the new library. The lost space will be replaced by using mezzanine levels and an extended space below ground which will retain the 31,000 square metres originally proposed. Architects Journal has added that further detailed design worjk is still ongoin with the completion of Stage D design, scheduled for September,

A public consultation with 607 comments was surprisingly neutral with 68 per cent not giving an opinion on the design and instead choosing to comment on details and facilities. Of the rest, 19 per cent were in favour, some with minor reservations, and 12.5 per cent opposed.

The Shakespeare Memorial Room which houses the library's extensive Shakespeare collection will be moved again, having been moved from the old Birmingham Library to the current central library in 1974, and reassembled in the gold cylinder at the top of the new Library.

The outside of the building will feature an intricately patterned steel facade. Publicly accessible terraces at the third and seventh floors will provide outdoor green spaces for a range of activities, while a ‘brown roof’ will provide a natural habitat for wildlife. At the top of the building, the aluminium-clad rotunda will have a glass facade offering views south across Centenary Square and the city beyond. It will also house ‘The Shakespeare Memorial Room’, providing a unique venue for small events and receptions featuring original 19th Century fixtures, fittings and materials. Featuring greywater harvesting and connected to the Broad Street Combined Heat and Power Network, the building has been designed to achieve an ‘excellent’ BREEAM Rating for sustainability.

The application is expected to go to the council's planning committee in November with building contractors on site on the 4th January 2010 if approval is given. A January start would aim to have the library completed by March 2013 with the library stock moved over ready for a grand opening in June of that year.


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