Birmingham City Council

Video tour of the Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham rotunda

You can now see a computer-generated video tour of the Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo Architecten. The ambitious project located in Centenary Square Birmingham will connect the Library of Birmingham with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to create a major new cultural destination opening in 2013.

Online video tour of the Library of Birmingham (2 minute version)

Online video tour of the Library of Birmingham (6 minute version)

* Transcript of commentary on the shorter video


Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“Over a year into the construction process, we are at a hugely exciting point in the Library of Birmingham project. The building is progressing at a truly phenomenal rate and taking shape right before people’s eyes - whilst remaining on time and within budget.

“With the flythrough people can get a real sense of how our world-class new Library will look and feel inside and out. We want to provide a ‘people’s palace’ for people of all ages, offering the diverse communities across the city and beyond a library to truly be proud of. This flythrough further demonstrates our vision of transforming the city’s library and archives services, providing a culturally significant destination for the 21st century.”

The Library of Birmingham ‘flythrough’ opens outside the building, showing its distinctive design featuring the trademark glass facade complete with intricate metal frieze. The viewer is then transported inside the library through the spacious front entrance and foyer, an area that will be connected to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and used by thousands of visitors each day. The tour continues through the building’s lower ground floor, the new home of the children’s and music libraries, and into the outdoor amphitheatre space, which will host a wide variety of outdoor performances to be enjoyed by onlookers above in Centenary Square.

The journey progresses into the central rotunda at the heart of the building, featuring a breathtaking wall of books across two floors, and finishes with an external view of the ‘golden rotunda’ at the building’s summit, housing the magnificent wood-panelled Shakespeare Memorial Room from Birmingham’s Victorian library. The video also shows one of the library’s stunning outdoor terraces, whilst demonstrating how the building will be flooded with natural light.

The video provides the clearest vision yet of what the building will offer upon completion in 2013, and follows the first interior images which were released in December 2010.

Library of Birmingham Project Director, Brian Gambles added:

“The Library of Birmingham is being built for the people, and with anticipation rising as we edge closer to 2013, we are keen to keep the public informed as to the progress of the project. This flythrough video offers the first opportunity to take a preview of the completed building, and I am confident that the public will be impressed with the results.”

Francine Houben, of project architects Mecanoo, said:

“The library's interior rotunda spaces will form a rich sequence of experiences that reveal themselves one glimpse at a time. The video presentation will demonstrate this exciting journey of surprise and show you the home provided for Birmingham’s world class archives and heritage collections, and the state-of-the-art environment for study, reading and listening to music.”

With a mission to transform public perceptions of libraries, new features in the Library of Birmingham will include a flexible studio theatre, a British Film Institute Mediatheque, and purpose-built, state-of-the-art exhibition space for Birmingham’s internationally significant archives and heritage collections.

Also among the new additions will be a teenage zone for young people to relax, meet friends and chill out, and a contemplation room for prayer and quiet thought.

Meanwhile, accessibility will be greatly improved thanks to wide, level access from Centenary Square, a spacious open plan foyer and generous circulation routes. In addition, public lifts will be large enough for wheelchair and pushchair manoeuvres.

As construction continues into its second year, current milestones include the recent completion of the floor slab at first floor level, with focus now turning to the decking for the second floor.

Following the recent temporary closure of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Centenary Square base, site hoardings have been extended to envelope the theatre in readiness for preparatory works and partial demolition ahead of its physical link to the Library of Birmingham being forged.

Later in 2011, milestones will include the topping out of the concrete frame, the installation of glazing, and the application of the metal frieze.

Transcript of commentary

* “ In 2013 Birmingham’s skyline will be transformed by one of the world’s most exciting and ambitious cultural projects, the Library of Birmingham. With its distinctive design featuring a glass façade overlaid with an intricate metal frieze, this People’s Palace, will be open to everyone of every age and background for learning, culture, social interaction and fun.

Thousands of visitors a day will flood through its spacious entrance which is also the gateway to a new link with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre .

An expansive, light filled foyer and comfortable reading areas will provide a welcoming environment for meeting friends, surfing the net or simply relaxing over lunch.

The lower ground children’s and young people’s library leads to the music zone and through to the outdoor amphitheatre with its varied programme of performances.

Wifi throughout and innovative interactive technology will be at the heart of the new Library’s services.

The Library of Birmingham will be an accessible and easily navigated building taking visitors on journeys of discovery .

From the impressive book rotunda to the business zone with its creativity and innovation hub. From the British Film Institute Mediatheque providing free access to the National Film Archive to the green outdoor terraces with stunning views across the city. And a spacious exhibition gallery showcasing some of the city’s world class archives and special collections.

Finally, rising through the building to its crowning glory, the historic Shakespeare Memorial Room now taking pride of place in the golden summit.

The Library of Birmingham. A truly world class library for the 21st century.”

Rewriting the Book