Set back from High Street East at the junction with Ferndale Avenue, the low lying form of Wallsend Library is marked by a simple saw-tooth modular glazed perimeter with integrated bookshelves. The library was part of the ongoing development of library typologies by local architects Williamson, Faulkner Brown and Partners and has distinct similarities to Jesmond Library. The library is distinct in so far that it embodies Harry Faulkner-Brown’s “10 commandments” or principles that established the practice expertise for libraries.
The layout is a modular design allowing a high degree of flexibility to accommodate the inevitable changes in arrangement of book stacks, seated areas and the introduction of new types of reader services in future decades. The building rises on a subtle raised concrete platform with extensive glazing throughout overlooking an internal landscaped reading courtyard and allows light deep inside the plan. The library has a distinct modular space-planning design through to the coffered ceiling which is formed from acoustic panels set in white, prefabricated, plastic-laminate frames.
Within the landscaped courtyard is an ancient Roman’s head sculpted by Gosforth artist, Murray McCheyne (who also designed the seahorses on top of the Newcastle Civic Centre) to reflect the Roman heritage of Wallsend’s (Segedunum’s) Roman heritage.
In 2014, the library was given Grade II listed status for being a ‘pioneering modular design… being at the vanguard of a new post-war approach to library planning’.
Images 1-2 copyright of Faulkner Brown Architects
Image 3 copyright of Ron Forrest