More than just a building, the Library of Birmingham (LoB) designed by Mecanoo is a People’s Palace, a centre for learning, information and culture that unites people of all ages and backgrounds. A cantilevered volume not only provides shelter at the entrance, but also serves as a grand balcony with a discovery garden. The circular courtyard cut out of the square is a protected outdoor space that invites daylight deep into the building.
Visitors move from one floor to the next through interconnected and overlapping rotundas that provide natural light and ventilation. Ever-changing vistas unfold through the delicate filigree skin of interlocking circles, inspired by the tradition of metalwork in this former industrial city.
The prominent golden rooftop rotunda houses the Shakespeare Memorial Room from 1882. Situated between the concrete Repertory Theatre (REP) from 1962 and the listed Baskerville House from 1936, the LoB transforms the largest public square in the heart of the city with three distinct realms for history, culture and entertainment.
At 31,000 m², the LoB welcomed over 2.7 million visitors in the first twelve months. New workshops, staff accommodation and a 300-seat auditorium with foyer are shared by both the library and the integrated and renovated REP. The library attained a BREEAM excellent rating.