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05 Jul 2011

Extension of Enfield's Carnegie Library gets the thumbs-up from Boris Johnson

The client's objectives for the Enfield Library were to make the library more useful and welcoming to all members of the public; to create a landmark and public green space at the west end of Enfield high street; to conserve the character of the existing building and the Green and to provide an exemplar of sustainability.

Opened in March 2010 by Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate, the Library embodies Enfield's vision of a friendly, accessible and welcoming building, more like a bookshop than a traditional library. This new two-storey building extends the 1912 Carnegie Library in Enfield Town Conservation Area, relocating the main entrance from Cecil Road to Library Green which has been remodelled as part of this project and now has a fountain, artwork, new planting with wildlife habitats and is used as an ice rink at Christmas. Positioned at the end of the high street, the Library has a landmark presence and offers extensive views of the Green.

The main glazed entrance elevation is like a shop window and faces north, avoiding solar gain, while the other more solid stone elevations shield the library from the sun and surrounding traffic noise. The old and new buildings are linked by a top-lit atrium which provides natural light into the centre of the plan and helps visitors' orientation. The structural concrete frame and soffits of the new extension are exposed so that the Library benefits from the building's thermal mass. Renewable energy for heating and cooling is sourced from a geo-thermal system with boreholes extending 100m below the Green.

The building has achieved a BREEAM rating of 'Excellent'. The renewed library now attracts a much wider range of users including many more young people. The project won ‘Best Built Project' at the London Planning Awards in January 2011 hosted by London Mayor Boris Johnson. He praised the 'bold and successful architectural intervention' that brought a 'real sense of town centre renewal' and said that ‘the new building has turned the library around, both literally and metaphorically'

Key Facts

United Kingdom
Civic Buildings

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