With a population of a million, Birmingham is one of the United Kingdom’s leading financial and educational centers. Its urban core has historically been maltreated, however, so the past two decades have seen ambitious plans for it launched with the express aim of city renewal, a fruit of which has been the construction of this library which shares site with a theater.
Free-standing in an unbeatable location, the city’s main square, the new library consists of several stacked rectangular volumes containing, from bottom to top, the different parts of a complex program: foyer and children’s library; reading rooms; archives and rooftop garden. All are laid out around a circular void. The ‘rotundas’, as they are called in the project, vary in section and stagger as one climbs up the building through large escalators.
The building is conceived as a palace for the people. The careful handling of the interiors contributes to this, but more so the huge lattice wrapped around the entire building, with its filigree pattern of interlocking rings. This ornament has two layers: an outer main order of large circles, 540 centimeters in diameter, formed by black aluminum tubes of 15 x 75 x 3 millimeters; and a secondary inner one where the circles are 180 centimeters in diameter and the dimensions of the tubes, in silver tones here, are 80 x 40 x 3. These superposed lattices are attached to the rafters of the rear curtain wall through corbels anchored at the height of the slab edges, with the help of tubes of smaller sections that give resistance to wind pressure.
The slab edges are equipped with motorized grilles that capture air with which to ventilate the interior naturally; a passive strategy complemented by other systems and mechanisms, such as taking advantage of the thermal inertia of the structural slabs, and the use of pumps to exchange heat with the ground.
Biblioteca integrada en el Teatro REP Library of Birmingham integrated with the REP Theatre (UK)
2008-2009 (diseño design); 2010-2013 (construcción execution).
Birmingham City Council.
Consultor de estructuras e instalaciones Structural and mechanical engineering
Buro Happold, www.burohappold.com
Consultor de teatro Theatre consultant
Consultor de planeamiento Planning consultant
GVA Grimley, www.gva.co.uk
Gestión de diseño Design manager
Davis Langdon Schumann Smith, www.davislangdon.co.nz
Contratista principal Main contractor
Carillion Building, www.carillionplc.com