To make culture and education accessible to as many people as possible is the principal objective pursued with the construction of the second of a series of innovative service buildings which will be incorporated into some local centers of the United Kingdom. Somewhere between public building, cafeteria and department store, these public centers are equipped with libraries of books, audiovisuals and learning centers for children and adults. Like the Idea Store of Tower Hamlets – a London borough –, the seven centers planned shall take on the characteristics of retail buildings in terms of customer focus, flexible retail hours, openness and accessibility.
Though the prominent facade facing south towards Chrisp Street has two levels, which correspond to the entrance lobby and to some of the reading areas, most of the building extending behind occupies the first floor only, using the old roof of reinforced concrete of a commercial building as a platform upon which to develop the program of the cultural center. The columns of this new construction of colored glass emerge from the load-bearing walls that subdivide the existing shops and follow, through their modulation, the structural order imposed. The lightness of all the constructional solutions – including the exposed waterproof roof and the slender timber joist –, responds to the need to adapt to the structure and, above all, to the size of the existing foundations.
Several oblique lines appear both on plan and on section, allowing the building to attract attention and assert its existence towards the street or to shape less oppressive spaces around it. The facade is clad in glass tinted in five shades of green and blue, letting the light come in from the narrow streets surrounding the center. The library takes up the eastern half of the building’s floor surface, composing an open-plan area where the bookstacks subdivide space according to the age of readers. On the western facade, however, the space is compartmentalized in numerous classrooms and offices for staff, that take up one of the structural modules. In order not to obscure the design of the exposed timber roof, almost all the services within the space are distributed primarily through the raised floor, which also provides a plenum for the circulation of air through the insulated layer located between the waterproof sheeting and the timber ply finish of the interior... [+]
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Yohannes Bereket, Josh Carver, Nikolai Delvendahl, Cornelia Fischer, Soyingbe Gandonu, Jessica Grainger, Andrew Heid, Haremi Kudo, Yuko Minamide, John Moran, Ana Rita R. P. Silva, Go Tashiro
Arup (estructura e instalaciones structural and services engineer); Miller Mitchell Burley Lane (gestión del proyecto, aparejadores project manager, quantity surveyors)
Paul Raftery/View; Lyndon Douglas