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Transparent ringed facade

Public library, Birmingham (UK)

With its roof gardens, glass facades and visible courtyards, Mecanoo designed the Library of Birmingham - opened in 2013 - as a public building.

Despite its voluminous size, the glass structure blends into the urban context in a dominant yet non-oppressive fashion. This is thanks in no small part to the transparent, coloured facade featuring a filigree pattern of decorative steel rings – a design element with which the architect Francine Houben of Mecanoo aims to recall the artisan tradition of this once industrial city.

The largest library in Western Europe

The 35,000-square-metre public library covers an exhaustive array of library and educational uses and even features a community health centre, a roof garden and a studio theatre that seats up to 300 people. It is currently the largest library in Western Europe. Attracting some 10,000 visitors a day, the library is not only a source of knowledge and culture, it also specifically aims to encourage research and innovation in Birmingham.

Shakespeare Memorial Room

At the heart of the building is a large book rotunda that conveys the atmosphere of a traditional reading room while also doubling as a passageway and place where visitors split off to other areas. The roof also houses a very special rotunda, which is home to the “Shakespeare Memorial Room”.