Central Library, why not knock down everything else instead?

Google Earth.jpg @ 100% (RGB/8#)
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch! An ‘artist’s’ impression.

The city council have said that whatever the result of English Heritage’s attempt to get The Central Library listed, they still intend to knock it down.It’s nice to have city planners with vision, but we’re allowed to disagree when we think they’re wrong and I do here.

Quite a few people have raised objections, which the council won’t listen to, but so far I don’t think anyone has voiced an opinion on what should be done. One of the main arguments against keeping the library is that the whole ‘paradise’ development cuts one side of the city centre off from the other — I think this is quite valid and the council is obviously keen to have events in Centenary Square, and people do see the divide as an effort to cross.

The council want to be able to see the Town Hall, they think the library cramps it — but the beauty of the library is similarly cramped by truly horrible buildings.

So, lets open it up — and knock every bit of Paradise Circus apart from the library down.

Get rid of the Copthorne hotel, Adrian Boult hall, Paradise Place, and leave great a great expansive ‘city space’ with Central Library and the Town Hall as one end, the new library and ICC at the other. A huge place for shows, gatherings, meetings, tree ringed, maybe a couple of European-style kiosk cafés in the centre.

Yes, I said new library, let the council build their new library, we can use the old one for something else (in part perhaps all the books they’re thinking of chucking). Something else that needs no light, server farm, whatever?

Paradise Forum becomes a huge contemporary art space, the new library is a digital library, with swathes of electronic access to whatever the future can bring. The beautiful central library stands as if Birmingham’s Pompidu Centre, in it’s beautiful ugliness.

12 comments for “Central Library, why not knock down everything else instead?

  1. 22 June 2008 at 2:51 pm

    What a great idea.

  2. 22 June 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Noooooo! Don’t give ’em ideas. The Central Library must go – it’s just awful! Ugly, badly designed, badly built and falling apart. Have you ever tried working in there? The sooner we can get rid of this monstrosity, the better.

  3. 23 June 2008 at 8:58 am

    It might be falling apart, Alex but it’s hardly badly designed it’s a wonderful sculptural piece of work as I see it.

    It might not fit the definition of today’s library, but it doesn’t have to stay as a library. To demolish would be a wilful act of cultural vandalism.

  4. 23 June 2008 at 10:12 am

    Great article. It’s a plan that could work although persuading anyone influential to listen will be tough. My gut feeling is that this plan would let the Central Library ‘breathe’ and, with some modest maintenance, i could all look pretty good.

    It’s an architecturally interesting building, ahead of it’s time – the sort that Birmingham has traditionally flattened before regretting these actions later.

    Count me in as a someone who would like to see the building saved. I think there’s more of us that the City thinks but probably not enough to actually see it survive ;-(

  5. 23 June 2008 at 10:15 am

    Any chance of cross-posting this to a Birmingham Post blog? It’s a fascinating debate and it would be great to get the widest possible attention to both sides – good for the Post too which could be at the heart of this discussion.

  6. 23 June 2008 at 11:02 am

    Nervous as I am of crossposting Josh, I’ve taken your advice. Let’s see if anyone reads it over on the Post site (the Lifestyle blog isn’t the easiest bit to find).

  7. Evita
    29 June 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Have you all seen the debate on The Stirrer website? Finally someone with a modicum of influence has taken note – all hail Martin Mullaney!

  8. nash
    29 July 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Personally I just love the character and appearance of the library building….it is Birmingham’s equivalent of Festival Hall! All the talk from its detractors about fragmenting east and west always misses out the fact that the ground level was once open to the elements and created a vista through to the other side! It is only the enclosure of the central ground floor space that has created this effect….so I suggest the Council remove these horrible little modern retail units and the problem will solved and the building will have full integrity once more.

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