New images for Mecanoo’s Library of Birmingham

Courtesy of

As the first anniversary of the start of building work at the Library of approaches, new design images released today offer a first look inside the building.

With the main service cores of the building now in place and the lower floor structures beginning to take shape, the images, produced by architects Mecanoo, provide members of the public with a preview of what can be expected when the library opens its doors in 2013.

More images and press release after the break.

Courtesy of Mecanoo

The two new images show a concept view of the new outdoor amphitheatre in Centenary Square, as well as a first look at the central rotunda inside the library.

Operating as a main focal point of the building, the central rotunda features a breathtaking wall of books across several floors, with the image showing an improved environment with user-friendliness at its core. Wide travelators and escalators provide links between floors, while spacious public areas are flooded with natural light.

The outdoor amphitheatre, meanwhile, promises to become a hugely popular feature of the new building upon completion. Accessible from the music and children’s sections of the Library of Birmingham, the amphitheatre will provide the perfect space for outdoor performance and activity which can be viewed from onlookers in the above Centenary Square.

Courtesy of Mecanoo

The Library of Birmingham will be a major new cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries. It opens in 2013.

Designed by international architects Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham will be located in the city’s Centenary Square. The building will comprise a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces, a ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage occupying two levels, provision for staff offices and service plant on a further two levels and at the very top of the building a rotunda feature housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room. In all, the facilities are spread over 10 levels of varying size and usage.

The new library will be physically connected to Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) and the two organisations will work in partnership, bringing together the written and spoken word through drama, poetry and performance.

Courtesy of Mecanoo

The Library of Birmingham will provide a showcase for the city’s internationally important collections of archives, photography and rare books. New facilities including state-of-the-art gallery space will open up public access to the collections for the first time. It will also be home to a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive. Other facilities will include a new 300 seat studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre and other informal performance spaces, a recording studio, and dedicated spaces for children and teenagers. By harnessing new technology, everyone from Birmingham to Beijing, Bangalore and beyond will be able to access the Library of Birmingham’s world-class resources. More than three million visitors are expected each year, and millions more online.

Described by its architect Francine Houben as a ‘people’s palace’, the Library of Birmingham will be highly accessible and family-friendly. It will deliver excellent services through collaboration between the library, The REP, partners and communities. It will provide a dynamic mix of events, activities and performance together with outstanding resources, exhibitions and access to expert help for learning, information and culture. As a centre of excellence for literacy, research, study, skills development, entrepreneurship, creative expression, health information and much more, the Library of Birmingham will change people’s lives.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "New images for Mecanoo’s Library of Birmingham" 14 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • alex

    Walking past the building site, it is vast. It completely dominates the landscape. Great section

  • blackstone

    The ‘retro’ circular fretwork on the facades is VERY unfortunate. Maybe it might make sense in the Middle East somewhere– but Birmingham! D’oh!

    • Bopp

      It’s on every unbuild project of Mecanoo. Must be some kind of fetish.

  • Holcim Awards

    Was the facade screen element designed to address solar heat gain?

    The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction are now open for submissions:

    • mac

      Dude, stop spamming with your lousy announcements!

  • hana

    better renders than the last time :)

  • Rado

    I liked the idea of the “hole” in the ground but the escalators on the inside seem a bit out of place.
    Not my picture of a library.

  • Tapara

    Mmmmm… really?! They are going to build that??
    In all Mecanoo projects there is always some anoying tick. The volumetry looks right, urbanistically right, but the facade is so chick, product of a really bad teast and out of contest. Same happens with the interiors, you can seer these barroque rotondas full of books, with modern shopping mall scalators and french balconies railing.
    I don’t know what happen in Francine’s Houben office, but the projects look design by a phsyco.