Plans for a new central library have been revealed and the council?s architects have come up with a design which should impress everybody.
The scheme costing ?9.6 million has been awaited literally for decades. Since the early 1950s the town’s central library has been housed in an embarressing collection of portacabins tacked onto the rear of the old Town Hall.
That will change by 2008. The brief to council architects architects Nic Newland and Tony Currivan was to create a signature building on an island site which makes a bold statement, whilst being sympathetic to the existing Victorian town hall, at the top of Regent Street.
The scheme satisfy these demands, using the proportions of the town hall and traditional brick and tile materials whilst incorporating flexible usage and state-of-the-art engineering.
Nic Newland, pictured with Coun Rod Bluh, cabinet lead member responsible for regeneration, said his team has used the British arts and crafts movement and the work of architect Edward Lutyens as their reference point to provide a quiet formality to the building.
By including a third floor in a loft space under a sloping roof the new does not dominate the existing. In contrast to the square form of the town hall, the library has a curved exterior with large double height windows separated by buttress columns which will both hold the building up and act as chimneys to aid ventilation.
The aim is for the building to be highly energy efficient. The entrance will be off the pedestrian area at the top of Regent Street, next to Princes Street. Apart from books and computers which are standard features of a library, there will be a large children?s area on the ground floor and a teenagers? space, and a first floor reading room in a turret above the circular entrance lobby.
The back of the new library will be a surprise. In contrast to the exterior brick finish, the wall facing the rear courtyard will be glass and steel and incorporate a roof terrace for exhibitions and performances.
Coun Rod Bluh said he was delighted with the plans. “I?m very excited by the building. It has an air of permanence whilst being modern and innovative. The new library provides the quality of design we are seeking for the regeneration of the town centre.”
The current library will be housed on a temporary basis in the Paramount development on Princes Street by the beginning of June.
The council?s planning committee will consider the project in March.
Photos: The library model of he curved library facing Princes Street behind the town hall, showing the glass rear wall facing
Pictures of the site at the top of Regent Street