Gough opens Pandora's box

22 Nov 2011

CZWG's shimmering Canada Water Library completes in Borough of Southwark

This latest offering from CZWG Partner and WAN judge Piers Gough is a perforated aluminium-clad library building on London’s Canada Water. An upturned pyramid, the anodised light bronze volume incorporates a public café, performance spaces, various library areas and commercial outlets into a single form which looks to encourage the community to engage with learning on an informal basis.

Gough details: “The building celebrates its brilliant location on a new public square, next to a bus and tube station and overlooking Canada Water basin. The library is an indoor public space open to everyone, where you find wonderful things you weren’t necessarily looking for. It is a futuristic Pandora’s box of possibilities.”

This heavy form will not be to everyone’s taste but it makes an undeniably strong statement on the water’s edge. Constrained by a tube station box to the north, clearance for a London Underground access hatch adjacent to the road, and an east/west pedestrian walkway across the south of the plaza, the building’s asymmetrical silhouette is a direct response to its irregular site.

The brief for this civic structure demanded that the finished product be more than a generic city library. It needed to engage directly with the community and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the London Borough of Southwark. As such, CZWG’s glittering volume offers commercial space on the ground floor, with shops and cafes extending outwards into an open public plaza at the front of the building.

A double height atrium houses a timber-lined central spiral staircase which leads up towards the main library floor. At this level are resources for children and young adults in a flexible layout space for multi-use activities with quieter areas on offer to visiting adults. Eco-friendly design details have also been included within Canada Water Library, including a ground source heat pump, grey water harvesting and a green sedum roof.

Key Facts

United Kingdom
Civic Buildings

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