Scottish Poetry Library – New chapter for famous library
Delivering a multitude of benefits geared to meet the needs of today’s users, as well as opening up exciting new possibilities, is a recently completed project to extend and significantly upgrade Edinburgh’s famous Scottish Poetry Library.
According to the library: “Our building was designed for what we were doing in the 1990s, and we needed to plan for the 2020s – even for what we can’t imagine doing yet.
“Space for Sound was our campaign to refurbish the library, to provide a flexible and imaginative base from which to deliver our mission to bring people and poetry together.
“The design by Nicoll Russell Studios, meets our priorities for flexible space and preserves the spirit and indeed much of the library as it currently exists (there is no “loss” of the existing artworks), while it also it opens up new possibilities for the life of the library.”
The new space includes: an events and meeting area, sealed off from the open areas of the library; increased and improved performance space; the provision of a soundproof recording studio and a variety of reading and study areas; the installation of additional shelving and storage for books and other items; the creation of a welcoming entrance and the creation of an extended, sheltered terrace for reading, conversation and outdoor performance.
The project was carried out by fit-out contractors Morris & Spottiswood. Contracts manager Steven Welch said Morris & Spottiswood worked closely with Nicoll Russell Studios to adapt to the complexities of the project.
“For a relatively small project it proved to be quite complicated,” he said. “We were tasked with constructing an extension to the front of the building including an external terrace area for poetry nights and other social gatherings, which substantially increased the footprint of the existing building.
“The design presented a number of unusual challenges on what was a very tight site. The existing external stair and garage had become redundant over the years and these have been replaced with a cleverly-designed extension that seamlessly unites the new building with the existing, re-using timber cladding panels, glazed screens and even the blue glazed brickwork.
“Removing parts of the existing structure, while retaining and extending its fabric and capacity were not without difficulties, but this project was a good example of the benefits of close partnership working involving the end user and all members of the design team throughout.”
The Scottish Poetry Library building, designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, was opened to the public in June 1999, and won several awards for its distinctive modern style, which also blended well with the Old Town surroundings.
The Scottish Poetry Library is a unique national resource and advocate for the art of poetry, and Scottish poetry in particular. The library is one of three poetry libraries in the UK, but the only one to be independently constituted and housed. It is the only poetry house in the world to have an extensive lending library at its core.