Crawley LibraryEdit profile
Crawley Library creates a new major civic building providing a range of county council services including a 2850sqm central library, 450sqm register office, together with 1170sqm of social services and administrative accommodation. Designed to be a landmark for Crawley town centre, this accessible and welcoming integrated scheme forms part of a long-term masterplan for the wider area. Facing onto a new public square, the four storey building brings together various stakeholders in a timeless yet contemporary civic building. The design strategy creates a welcoming inclusive space for all and provides clarity of organisation. The building is arranged around a feature ‘ribbon’ staircase and a prominent central atrium, which turns around on itself to effectively open up visual connectivity. The atrium and stair connect all areas and brightly coloured acoustic canopies define enquiry desks. The ground floor combines key elements such as the children’s library, teenage area, café and help-point dealing with local council services. The staircase leads to the main browsing area with study areas and informal seating. Flexible meeting rooms and an IT suite are located on the first floor. The second floor hosts a quieter study area with an innovative video wall and a reference area overlooking a green roof and terrace. The brief and prominent town centre location called for a building that expresses civic qualities suitable for public services in the 21st century. This was achieved through playful elevations exploring variations of rhythm between stone and glazed panels. These panels address the need for transparency to showcase the facilities and provide good levels of daylight. The width of the panels is based on the width of a standard shelving unit, allowing a unique relationship between the exterior and interior whereby the books are actually embodied in the thickness of the building envelope. Subsequently freed-up floor space contributes to a light, airy and accessible interior. Consultation and community participation formed an important part of the client’s requirements and detailed aspects of the brief were developed through extensive liaison with library and registration service staff and end users. The consultation drew on workshops with artists Gordon Young and Anna Sandberg which informed an art commission for a series of engraved oak columns carrying quotations of favourite books etched into the stripped oak trees. From the start the design was developed following best practice sustainability principles. Designed for sustainability and comfort, the building has a high thermal mass, controlled daylighting, a sophisticated mixed mode ventilation system and a biomass boiler. Simple methods of energy conservation such as exposed thermal mass, controlled daylighting, natural stack effect and cross ventilation are used to minimise heat gains. The sophisticated mix mode ventilation strategy, good natural lighting and the use of a biomass boiler also contributed to the achievement of a BREEAM rating of Very Good.