AKT II have built an iconic library next to Canada Water
The Client's brief called for a ‘freestanding iconic civic building that exemplifies the importance of the library, education and community facilities for people of Southwark'. The impossibly small site, chosen for this new £14m ‘Super-Library' is situated on the very edge of the dock wall and is constrained by the station box beneath the plaza, access shaft adjacent to the road, pedestrian desire line across the south side of the plaza, and the need to retain critical views.
The challenge was to create a structural form that embraced these physical constraints and fulfilled the strict internal dimensional demands of the brief and engendered a building with a strong individual against the tranquil naturalised backdrop of Canada Water. The resulting five-storey futuristic 'tardis', with canted walls that flare out from the base provides an inverted geometric form that is both functional, and aesthetically striking.
The structural story for this challenging form starts below ground with the interface with station access shaft, where the original foundation system had insufficient capacity to support additional loading. New piles were installed to both underpin the existing shaft walls and support the new library structure above. The prefabrication of the inclined columns that support the ever expanding floor plates, in combination with jump formed core walls, offered significant programme advantage and the material properties of steel meant that member sizes could be optimised.
A high percentage of recycled steel in the reinforcement and the structural steel members, the specification of cement replacement in the design of the concrete mix and the utilisation of the thermal mass of the exposed concrete slab soffits form a fundamental part of the environmental strategy for the building's design. The natural ‘struck' finish of the concrete in lieu of other less sustainable finishes contributed to give this public building outstanding green credentials.
Client: London Borough of Southwark
MEP Consultant: Hoare Lea
Principal Contractor: ISG Jackson Ltd