The New Birmingham Central Library
I recently visited this incredible new building…fast proving to be the Marmite of architecture to the local people and visitors (some love it others appear to loathe it).
I was not the millionth visitor sadly,(that number was reached just before Christmas I believe) though given the crowds of interested visitors, I thought I might have been. I loved the fact that there was some serious studious, functional activity going on, surrounded by people wandering round open mouthed at the building and its space!
It is certainly imposing and after having spent a good couple of hours mooching about, I am happy to say I am most definitely a fan. My companion was not so impressed and felt that the use of space was not good. Though he did concede that the design meant it was very flexible and that this meant it would probably evolve and change many times to suit the needs of its users. If I had a criticism it would be the positioning of the rather imposing helpdesks, right by escalators – the volume of visitors made exiting the escalators a slightly hazardous procedure owing to large numbers of tourists crowding round them, needing help. Also the signage was a little too subtle. Small issues and not really architectural ones…
The roof gardens are breath taking as is the view. I was lucky to go on a gorgeous blue-skied day and it was giddying to see the city below me and underlined how much change Birmingham has gone through architecturally since the 60’s. I loved the intricate metal lattice cladding alongside the beautiful gardens and the stunning cityscape backdrop. The way the gardens are layered into the building makes you feel very much a part of the whole space, it was wonderful.
The pictures are not mine (mine are more informal and far less impressive) but come courtesy of The Telegraph ITV and BBC (one by David Lumb the other is uncredited).