It has been many months since I last wrote about architecture so I very much hope you enjoy this one. Firstly a few letterbox taster shots.
On Sunday Jude and I plus our two children, Jamie and Jodie, and their respective “other halves”, Sammi and Rob, met up to visit an amazing new building in Birmingham, the new library. We have been watching it under construction for several years as it developed upwards from the place where we used to park the cars when we went to the Symphony Hall. We were full of anticipation as we walked the short distance from the car park. When you have such high expectations of any visit you are fully aware of the likelihood of disappointment. But we were not to be disappointed in the slightest – the library looked amazing from the first glimpse between buildings until we finished exploring outside and in.
The design features based on circles hugged the outside walls and caught the light beautifully. The interplay of shape and light felt so powerful. Our eyes just would not stay still. The reflections that painted the glass a deep blue stood out against the watery blue of the January sky.
The smoothness of the huge sheets of glass at the bottom of the building reflected the surrounding buildings in such clarity.
For such a modern building it sits so happily with its neighbours whatever their ages. This is a sign of quality design. I just love old and new architecture sitting side by side like old friends, looking contented and comfortable.
So far we had only looked at the side of the library so we were looking forward to turning the corner.
We found a revolving door to afford us entrance to explore inside. We were greeted by the warm aroma of coffee beans being ground and water seeping through them. We had to take a seat and give it a taste.
Inside is just as satisfying, everything perfectly designed and sitting comfortably. Everywhere we looked people, mainly students, were studying or browsing the book shelves. Many stared at computer monitors which lined the inside of the windows.
Many of the interior fittings and features are based around circles, such as the lighting fittings and the light tubes. The interior lift to the very top few storeys was a cylinder shape which ran in a long circular tube of glass.
On several levels there was access to the outside onto terraces. These were full of seating built into raised metal planters, featuring interesting plantings and even nest boxes on poles. Here you can gain different views of the building itself and see its structure in detail.
Part way around our tour of the top floor we found this little sculpture in one of the terrace gardens.
From here you also gain close up views of the building itself and get the chance to study the structure itself.
On one level we finished exploring the terraces and went back in a different entrance to discover a room dedicated to the works of one William Shakespeare. A room from the original Birmingham Library had been dismantled and re-assembled in the new building. The intricate detailing included the book shelves, the wooden wall panels and engravings on the door. The books lined the shelves which were full to capacity.
The views over the city were stunning! Not everyone seemed happy getting close enough to the edge to appreciate this though!
Well done to Birmingham! A building to be proud of! We will soon be back.
8 replies on “The New Birmingham Library”
we went thwere last Friday!
On 4 February 2014 10:57, greenbenchramblings
What an absolutely wonderful building to be able to visit. Thank you for sharing. Someone in our family goes to our local library every week. It is a wonderful service to ‘we the people.’
What a fabulous building so well shown in your photos. I love all the circles inside and out and that colourful sculpture is delightful. If we ever find ourselves in Birmingham again, we will certainly visit! 🙂
Malc, you’ve done a very nice job of capturing the essence of the new library. Libraries remain critical human institutions. The circle theme works inside and out. The design looks stunning, and the interior so welcoming. Looks like a place one could explore many, many times.
Love Birmingham. Haven’t seen this yet so great to enjoy these photos. I have happy memories of drinking tea in the old library! Birmingham lives up it its city motto… Forward.
You are in for a treat. The coffee shop is a bit of a disappointment. Very small and right by the main door so we got frozen.
I’ll take a warm coat! It looks amazing. So pleased for Birmingham.
I’m also a lover of architecture…especially when it comes to learning environments. Gorgeous.