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Library of Birmingham

The current Birmingham Central Library was first opened in 1973 and is the busiest public library in Britain, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors per year. However, there was no room for expansion on the original site and the library has been forced to move to help accommodate the ever-changing developments in ICT and learning techniques.

Credt: Jas Sansi

Designed by Dutch Architects Mecanoo, the new Library covers ten floors, nine floors above ground and one below ground, and is expected to attract up to 10,000 visitors per day. up to 10,000 visitors per day. The building meets the City Council’s request that it achieve BREEAM Excellent rating. The cost-effective solution adopted by the design team minimises the building’s energy consumption by maximising its passive performance. The final form and layout of the building is designed to maximise the potential of natural ventilation as part of the low-energy, mixed-mode ventilation solution.

Colt provided Coltlite natural ventilators and Universal Louvre to the exterior of the building to provide natural ventilation and help regulate the internal temperature. In the interior of the library Colt have also installed Colt Shaft systems and Natural BRE Shafts to provide lobby ventilation, as well as ducted mechanical smoke extract systems, SM-5 automatic smoke curtains and FM1 automatic fire curtains.

Car park ventilation has been provided utilising a Colt Jetstream impulse fan system, which will not only clear smoke in the event of an emergency but will also help clear exhaust fumes on a day to day basis.

For a full description of the ventilation strategy, please read this article in the CIBSE Journal.

Riba Sterling Prize 2014

The Library of Birmingham was shortlisted in the 2014 Riba Sterling prize for best new building. Read our news story for more information

Project details
  • Location: Birmingham
  • End User: Birmingham City Council
  • Architect: Mecanoo Architecten
  • Consultant: Buro Happold
  • Main Contractor: Carillion
  • M&E Contractor: Emcor

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