New community centre and library for Chippenham
The new £12 million Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre is one of a small number of specialist public facilities which house & preserve the ancient documents, objects and archaeology of the United Kingdom in local centres overseen by the National Archives of England. It carries out important custodial, educational and promotional roles in a super modern holistic 21st Century Library, Archive & History Centre.
The brief was determined after a series of exhaustive collaborative workshops with all key stakeholders and the local community – all of whom had a say in the composition of the final design.
Opened in 2007, the new building now provides a service to over 25,000 people per year, either through direct personal research in the new building or through its extensive postal and internet enquiry service.
On the ground floor, a large new public reading room allows members of the public direct access to thousands of rare books, ancient manuscripts & documents, archaeological records and digital, microfilm & microfiche copies of historic information in a naturally day lit environment.
At first floor level, conservators & archivists work in north facing “state of the art” laboratories & workshops, where damaged documents and museum objects are examined and repaired.
The building formed part of a wider masterplan for regeneration within the area, and acted as a catalyst in rejuvenating community excitement in an otherwise run down semi industrial area, prompting the facility's first visitor, Mary Ratcliffe, to comment:
“…Your sensitive design has created a wonderfully warm welcome…for me it was truly uplifting experience…my congratulations on your achievement of visual splendour, comfort and the illuminating sustenance of natural light…”