Dear Sir, Birmingham seems poised to make the same mistake with its new library as West Bromwich with its notorious The Public at huge cost to the taxpayer - namely investing in an iconic and expensive building without giving the least thought to its content and likely function over the next fifty years.
Books can now be downloaded onto easily read devices and much archival material is now also available over the web.
Material that, for research or historical investigation, needs to be available in its original form and should be held in a depository located close to road and public transport links for easy access.
Such a building could be utilitarian and would certainly not cost the £193 million that is proposed for the library.
I’m sure most Birmingham taxpayers could think of many better ways of spending this money or, better still, not spending it at all.
Design doesn’t make intellectual statement
Dear Sir, I am writing in response to the publication of the new design for the rebuilding of Birmingham’s Public Library.
A library is a temple to honour man’s recorded intellectual thought and achievement and this is represented in the books that it houses.
An architect chosen to design a library should therefore represent this temple in intellectual architectural terms. To achieve a spirographic design for the outside of a building requires about as much brainpower as a spirograph instrument has itself.
Apart from that, it is lazy. The building speaking for the architect will say: ‘Oh I can’t think of what to do but cover the building with a spirographic design’. Why is it that Birmingham cannot come up with outstanding modern architecture?
The inside might be satisfactory and functional but the outside needs to relate in to its surrounding architecture: that is challenging and requires a certain genius.
What both the new library and the citizens that will use it deserve is a design with an intellectual statement that a modern Palladio could come up with.
‘Icon’ just going round in circles
Dear Sir, The pattern of intersecting circles on the library would be fine as a central feature. To wrap the entire building in the patterns is a vulgar case of ‘more is less’.
Architecture is surely about form and substance not lacy body suits. Is this another ‘Birmingham Icon’, like the Selfridges ‘armadillo’ that will be ridiculed by the rest of the world?
David Gilbert, Director,
New scheme is akin to architect’s old project
Dear Sir, Despite Mecanoo’s claims on their website that the facade of the proposed Library of Birmingham is a “delicate metal filigree, inspired by the rich and proud history of this former industrial city with a tradition of craftsmanship”, it looks surprising similar to another project on their website for Den Haag’s International Criminal Court (below), which one presumes has an equally inspiring tradition of craftsmanship!
Puzzled by approval
for new library design
Dear Sir, The new Birmingham library would be mostly made of glass. How would a glass building be cooled and heated in an energy-efficient way?
I understand the ICC has proved a long term drain on the city’s budgets because it was designed in a way that made it very expensive to heat (imitating American malls where energy is much cheaper).
A library needs lots of natural light for reading books, but much lower light levels for computers. It needs to keep stable temperatures and be well ventilated.
I think the site is exposed to strong westerly winds, so a roof garden is impractical. The front faces south and could overheat.
With climate change and peak oil (plus recession) I cannot understand how this design got approved. It makes a mockery of the Council’s interest in sustainability. As for the design, it looks even more like a place where books are incinerated not kept, as Prince Charles apparently said about the current library.
Rianne ten Veen