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Mecanoo's Library of Birmingham in the UK hits record numbers

by Katie Buckley | 16 Sep 2014

Borrowing and visitor numbers to the UK's new £189m (US$307m, €237m) Library of Birmingham – designed as both a library and a visitor attraction – by Mecanoo Architects, have doubled in comparison to its predecessor, the old Central Library.

The Library of Birmingham, which opened on to the public on 3 September 2013, has had more than 2.7 million people visit come through its doors over the last year.

Figures released by Birmingham City Council show that membership numbers have increased at the new library by 140 per cent on last year's figures, totalling more than a quarter of a million individuals.

Dutch-based Mecanoo Architecten designed the 35,000sq m (376,736sq ft) library, which is spread over nine floors and centres on a pivotal atrium at the heart of the building. The design lends itself to being a truly public and civic building, as demonstrated by the high visitor numbers.

The library is arranged counter-intuitively, with the archives on the top floors as opposed to the bottom

The £189m (US$307m, €237m) building offers more than just access to over a million books; there are spaces for music recitals as well as art exhibitions and conference areas. There is also an elevated, landscaped, brown roof garden with a wildflower meadow, offering a place of sanctuary in an urbanised locality.

Brian Gamble, the Library Director, commented that “It is unashamedly a tourist attraction.” This notion is aided by the structure winning the the RIBA West Midlands Regional Award 2014. The Library of Birmingham is also on the shortlist for the 2014 Stirling Prize.

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Borrowing and visitor numbers to the UK's new £189m (US$307m, €237m) Library of Birmingham – designed as both a library and a visitor attraction – by Mecanoo Architects, have doubled in comparison to its predecessor, the old Central Library. The Library of Birmingham, which opened on to the public on 3 September 2013, has had more than 2.7 million people visit come through its doors over the last year. Figures
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Mecanoo's filigree screen entices visitors into the building while giving a nod to Birmingham's historic Jewellery Quarter / Mecanoo Architecten
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