Plymouth’s new library
Plymouth’s new central library was revealed to the community in March this year, presenting a modern, stylish and fit-for-purpose new facility, following a refurbishment and relocation from the former building, which was outdated.
Premier Construction caught up with Simon Campion, Director of Claremont; as well as Richard Collinson, Interior Designer at Claremont; and Pippa Davie, Bristol Design Manager.
According to Richard:
“We worked for about nine months through the design stage with the development of ideas and feedback to a point of an agreed layout; and then the project started onsite in September 2015. It was finalised in March this year.”
“There was a vigorous tender process carried out by the council – they are very keen to get the best out of the marketplace, and in particular to source locally as much as possible.
“The feedback has been very good – both from the city council’s perspective and also from the public.”
“We are still doing some extra things onsite with the library at the moment – we are currently looking at a roof garden, so there should be some further developments in the near future.
“The library was previously housed in a very old building, so they moved to the newer building and the initial concept was to make it a more up-to-date space that fitted with how they wanted to display things in the future. They wanted to introduce more social areas, in a similar style to their First Stop Shop, which is just round the corner from there – linking the shop up with the same look and feel so they had a continuous service and it fitted in with the brand.”
Advantages of the new site include the location, better access and the modern layout, which in comparison is a huge improvement to the former location.
“The existing library was not very easily accessible and neither was its location – that is why the pedestrian area was chosen for the new site. There is a larger footfall, and they now have a shop front which displays screens advertising events and functions and the library service.
“As part of the relocation and refurbishment, improvements have been made to ensure the disabled access is compliant with regulations. We worked with Plymouth Area Disability Action Network (PADAN) and, alongside the staff and Building Control, we all analysed the disability access around the building, ensuring that easy access was in place throughout the building.”
“It’s also adjacent to the new bus station which is being built at the moment, as well as being up the road from the train station, which means more people will see the new library when coming into the area.
“I think the children’s area has massively improved from the old space because this area has been specifically designed for children, presenting a defined area that is much more modern and welcoming.”
“The library has a better meeting space and a dedicated training room; we put in a café which is provided by external service contractors – in this case Costa Coffee. We also provided the external roof decking area, which is a new addition that they didn’t have before, replacing what was formerly a roof car parking area that was no longer needed due to the adjacent bus station development.”
With better technology, a contemporary new design and the addition of new helpdesks, the library brings something full of vigour to engage visitors and encourage learning and interaction.
“The biggest challenges were trying to finalise the design to an agreed layout, working with Building Control to find an acceptable level of accessibility within the budgets and constraints that we had; and also undertaking the alterations required to the existing buildings – and by that I mean the two buildings that make up the library were divided by a party wall – we had to open that up and carry out structural works with the lift, etc. All this needed to be carried out in a tight timescale as well,” said Richard.
“I think the relationship that we have now built with the city council is great, as it’s the forth project we have carried out with them. It’s about developing a really good relationship with the client. I understand the direction in which the city council are going, because they are very passionate about what they do, and I think it’s clearly reflected in the brief and the space.”