Day 334/365 of Steel – Peckham Library

Inauguration of Peckham library on March 8, 2000.

Peckham Library is a Stirling Prize-winning library of steel and concrete, renowned for its innovative form. Will Alsop made a name for himself with bold, even eccentric designs. So, when Southwark Council commissioned him to design a new library as part of the regeneration of Peckham Square they knew to expect color, shape and texture from the structure.

Peckham library, London
Fig 1: Peckham library, London

With suspended ‘pods’ which protrude through the roof and a propped, cantilevered ‘horizontal block’, its idiosyncratic aesthetics defined the building’s make-up, and had to be carefully considered in the design stages. It was particularly crucial to ensure that the design met the aspirations of both the architect and its future patrons.

Peckham library, London
Fig 2: Peckham library, London

Its emphasis on a connection with the community is manifested in the shape of the building. The library is raised 12 m above the ground to provide its users with impressive views of London, and also offers a paved plaza below, creating a ‘circular hub’ for pedestrian access.

A statement was made with its materials, with green sides of pre-patinated copper and multi-colored structural glazing on the main elevation. To achieve support for the horizontal block, a structure incorporating long-span steel trusses connects to the concrete-framed main block. The cantilevered block is then supported via a system of inclined steel tubes rising from ground level and connected to the main floor plate and upper roof structure.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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