The new L
ibrary of Birmingham will open its doors on Tuesday, September 3.
The largest public library in Europe was designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo who won the bid in August of 2008. Total costs amounted to £ 186 million, well below the available budget of £ 193 million. Director Brian Gambles of the Library: “There’s a sense of enormous pride in what we have all achieved together.
We are opening one of Europe’s most important cultural venues. I do believe what we've got here is much more than books - it's about archives, photography, people and how they learn and interact.” The Library is a flagship project of the 20-year Big City Plan, focusing on the regeneration of Birmingham, second largest city of the UK with 1 million inhabitants.
Sited in Centenary Square it will, along with the Repertory Theatre and Symphony Hall, form a new cultural heart for the city. It is an open, public building, welcoming everyone regardless of background or age. "A People's Palace" says architect and creative director of Mecanoo Francine Houben.
"Investing in knowledge is a key factor for the future success of a society. Libraries play a crucial role in this. They offer access to a collective knowledge bank and support self-development of large groups of people.” she adds “The Library is an ode to the circle - the archetypical form that embodies universality, infinity, unity and timelessness.”
The adjacent Repertory Theatre has a long history and is highly respected in the British theatre world. Mecanoo completely renovated the 1971 building, maintained the foyer and auditorium, added a new Back-of-House and integrated it with the library. Together they share a new 300-seat Studio Theatre. Here, the written and the spoken word come together. The REP celebrates its reopening on Friday, September 6.