Penoyre & Prasad's library for Crawley centres on sustainability and comfort
Crawley Library creates a new major civic building and destination for the community comprising public library, register office, together with social services facilities set around a new public open space, bringing together various stakeholders in a timeless yet contemporary civic building.
The key design drivers were to create a welcoming inclusive space, provide clarity of organisation and support flexible layouts allowing for future change. The strategy created a building arranged around a feature ‘ribbon’ staircase and a prominent central atrium which turns around on itself to effectively open up visual connectivity. Generous windows showcase the library to passers by with high ceilings creating a welcoming ambiance.
The vision was to create a welcoming ‘living room in the city’ with facilities to encourage visitors. A striking and inviting atrium offers a clear orientation and allows visitors to linger in the building. Families can visit together with the option of a children’s library, teenager space, café and local council services desk all on the same floor. The library also offers flexible meeting rooms, IT suite, quiet study area with an innovative video wall, relaxed seating areas with newspapers and an intimate seating area overlooking the green roof and terrace.
Consultation formed an important part of the final design with details developed through extensive liaison with staff and end users. The consultation drew on workshops with artists Gordon Young and Anna Sandberg, which informed an art commission for a series of engraved oak columns carrying quotations of favourite books etched into the stripped oak trees.
Designed for sustainability and comfort, the building has a high thermal mass, controlled daylighting, a sophisticated mixed mode ventilation system and a biomass boiler. From the start the design has been developed following best practice sustainability principles and the Library achieved a BREEAM rating of Very Good.