The renovation projects revitalising Britain’s libraries

Liverpool Central Library

 Libraries across the country are going through a renovation revolution, restoring beautiful architecture and adding cafés, galleries and performance spaces in a bid to increase the amount of library users.

By moving away from a traditional environment libraries are hoping to become user-friendly social spaces for book, music and theatre lovers alike.

Architecturally impressive and technologically enhanced, how do the libraries of the future look today?

The Library of Birmingham

In January 2010 a £188m renovation project began on the Library of Birmingham to completely overhaul the building to turn it into Europe’s largest cultural space and the UK’s largest library.

The building’s redesign was executed by Mecanoo Architecten, who conceived the idea to create four stacked blocks covered in glass panelling and a lacing metal framework. This design went on to win the Architect’s Journal Building of the Year 2013 award.

The intricate metal rings covering the building are a reference to the city’s history with the jewellery industry and cast elegant patterns of shadow throughout the interior.

One of the most striking rooms in this nine-storey building is the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which occupies the top floor. Inside it is home to an extensive collection of Shakespeare’s works dating back to 1882.

Other additions to the building include multiple performance spaces, rooftop terraces, a glass-topped central book rotunda, interactive touch-screen smart tables, illuminated elevators throughout and an aquifer ground source system to reduce energy consumption.

The library is sandwiched between Baskerville House and the Birmingham Rep (to which it is connected) on Centenary Row and was formally opened by Malala Yousafzai in September 2013.

Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library, a Grade II* listed building designed by Vincent Harris in 1930, has been under renovation since 2010.

The project is opening up new spaces within the library whilst maintaining a balance with the original features. This will introduce a new amphitheatre-style performance area, exhibition and research spaces, archive rooms, a state-of-the-art digital retrieval system and better access throughout.

“Placing the vertical circulation core in the building took months but will ensure people can comfortably use the different levels of the library, a problem with the old configuration,” explained construction director Alan Garbutt to the Manchester Confidential.

Visitors will also be treated to a view of areas of the library that had previously been hidden from the public thanks to the installation of two new glass elevators.

The library is expected to reopen to the public on the 22nd March 2014.

Liverpool Central Library

Liverpool Central Library was first built in 1860 as part of the William Brown Library and Museum and has always shared a connection with the city’s museum, now called the World Museum Liverpool.

A renovation project began on the Grade II* listed library in 2010 after 10 years of extensive planning, overhauling it to an almost unrecognisable degree.

Developers aimed to strike a balance between the original features and modern technology.

Some of these original features, like the Hornby Library, Oak Room and sunken amphitheatre-style space in the basement, were hidden and have been opened to the public for the first time in years.

The largest change to the library was the demolition of sections built in the 1950s. This opened up space for a new five-storey building containing reading and information floors, a café, meeting rooms, an atrium and roof terraces.

A huge climate-controlled area was also created to protect 14km of archives as well as some of the city’s most treasured possessions.

In an interview with the Daily Mail Councillor Wendy Simon remarked that ‘[seeing] the building transform from a tired, dark venue into a stunning, welcoming library has been wonderful.’

The project was completed in May 2013 and cost £55m in total.

More information

When problems occur for multi-million pound renovations the effects can be crippling. That’s why having professionally designed insurance policies to safeguard the project against these damaging effects is essential.

Renovation Insurance will insure your existing building and the contract works you’re undertaking as one, so that both parts of the project are insured for all risks.

When we first talk to you we take time to understand your project and tailor unique renovation insurance cover to your individual property, whether it is an 19th century library or a rural barn conversion. We concentrate on insuring against realistic risk, protecting your project in the places it is most vulnerable.

Incredible libraries on Pinterest

Take a look at the inspiring architecture in these libraries around the world. We’re not sure if we’d be able to concentrate on our books if we visited them!


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