1 SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL ROOM
Inside the ‘crowning’ golden rotunda is The Shakespeare Memorial Room’s collection of 43,000 books.
The room was dismantled when the 1882 Victorian Library was replaced in 1974 by John Madin’s brutalist Central Library.
After being stored, it was reconstructed 12 years later in the School of Music next to the Central Library.
2 STAFF OFFICES
These are above what architect Francine Houben calls the building’s ‘three stacked volumes, each connected to the city at a different scale. The lower volume and terrace relate to Centenary Square, the middle volume to the district and the upper volume to the city scale’.
Houben says the journey through the library’s interior is ‘intended as a sequence of events and experiences, each discernible from the next’.
The stacking of the ‘library volumes’ has created space for outdoor gardens growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. The lower, south and east facing 1,400m2 Discovery Terrace overlooks Centenary Square and has a mixture of perennials, evergreen species, bulbs and small trees.
The north and west facing 1,050m2 Secret Garden on the Upper Terrace is more introverted, with denser planting. Its sloping beds are designed to reflect the city’s landscape.
4 ARCHIVE AND HERITAGE
‘When archives are buried in lower levels, no one sees them,’ says Francine Houben. Among 6,000 archive collections is the Boulton and Watt Collection, the world’s most important archive of the Industrial Revolution. Plus: Early and Fine Printing, Photographic, Literature and Birmingham collections.
This exhibition area will launch with Birmingham’s largest photography commission.
Developed in response to the creation of the new building, it will feature new work by Michael Collins, Brian Griffin, Andrew Lacon and Stuart Whipps (Sep 3-Dec 29, www.reference-works.com).
6/7 READERS SERVICES/BOOK ROTUNDA
Services on the middle section’s top level can be reached via the main Book Rotunda.
Ringed by four levels of cantilevered circular balconies, they connect three main floors with three main functions: the Public Library, the Discovery Terrace with the gallery and the Research Library.
Escalators zig-zag across the space and a round lift leads to the Secret Garden.
The 400,000 books on display doubles the number at the old Central Library, with 600,000 items in storage areas.
8 MEETING ROOM
Lower middle section, at the front of the building.
9 BUSINESS AND LEARNING
On the same level as (8) but at the rear of a building which has 136 Wi-Fi access points.
The filigree pattern of circles on the exterior are meant to symbolise the craftsmanship of Birmingham’s traditional heavy metal and Jewellery Quarter industries. Inside they will create a ‘panorama of continuously changing shadows dependent upon weather, time of day and seasonal expression’.
Between the Library and Birmingham Rep, a 300-seat Studio Theatre will merge the spoken and written word. The large canopy at the Centenary Square main entrance will offer protection from rain and shade from the sun.
Reaching out into Centenary Square, this performance area’s stepping terraces will ‘allow daylight to reach deep into the interior space’. This level includes the Children’s Library – a place to introduce your child to new experiences, sights and sounds as well as an ability to borrow up to eight items immediately.
And the Music Library will have something for everyone, from classical to Midland legends including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran and UB40.
Underground at the building’s rear.