Redcar Library

Ahrends, Burton and Koralek

“The library should never be considered as a monument or as a cultural retreat; but a source of pleasure, recreation, information and learning; readily available to all”.

Relaxed thinking about libraries as community facilities was beginning to take hold and was reflected in the range of functions included in the architects brief. The traditional library was being reconfigured. Public facilities such as a coffee shop, exhibition space and children’s play area formed the main entrance to the building. The reference library and study areas were pushed to the rear or located on a raised mezzanine so as not to be disturbed by the noise from the café.

The architects responded to the brash, industrial landscape of Redcar and its industrial hinterland with a building that exhibits its steel construction. Castellated beams are exposed internally giving an industrial feel that is counteracted by warm, soft materials like the burnt orange carpet that runs throughout. The library is laid out as a large, flexible public space, recognisable as a library only by the shelves of books.

In 2011, Redcar and Cleveland council, led by its first Liberal Democrat MP announced the ‘Redcar Civic And Leisure Quarter’ demolishing the 40 year old library. A longer critique of the building and process can be read here on our blog.

Photos 1-4 copyright of photographer Oliver Perry
Photos 5-7 copyright unknown