Birmingham City Library, Mecanoo’s recent replacement for the previous 70s building, offers a high-tech spectacle for its visitors. Complex patterns adorn the facades, a nod towards modernity, maybe natural/mathematical patterned codes and Super-Dutch playfulness.
Inside, a further experience of the high tech. Escalators and travelators, usually belonging to metropolitan systems, carry curious occupants to the upper levels, travelling through a full-height atrium that reveals it’s scale bit by bit as you are moved through the building. The feeling is perhaps somewhere between what it would be like to be a parcel in an Amazon warehouse to joining the masses at the Natural History Museum’s space/time escalator.
The buildings perpetually moving walkways do not necessarily represent the calm stillness often associated with libraries, rather it infers a connection to a dynamic world. Maybe a metaphor to common trends in learning and access to information.
The nature of libraries is, of course, subject to debate as much as the printed media contained within. Books are not the centre of this library, in fact, the upper levels display walls of colour coded stock more as a museum piece, not to be touched but instead displayed as curious antiquity. Probably, a reasonable reaction to today’s reality, and an entertaining spectacle all the while.
More to follow.