Swiss Cottage Library, London, UK

Basil Spence with Bonnington & Collins
Date Built
Avenue Road & Adelade Road
The Swiss Cottage Library was built in 1964 to a design by Sir Basil Spence.  It was part of a plan to create a civic centre in Hampstead but only two of the planned buildings were completed before changes in local government resulted in the cancellation of the plan.  In addition to the library, there was also a public swimming baths next door but it has since been demolished and replaced by a recreation centre.

Spence's design featured vertical concrete fins on the outside and two elegant spiral staircases on the inside. 

This Grade II Listed building has been described as,
" ... one of Spence's most accomplished civic buildings, and amongst the most ambitious architectural designs for a library found anywhere.'

In 2003 the library was once again part of a wide ranging plan to redevelop this part of Hampstead leading to the addition of new residential, leisure and cultural facilities and the refurbishment of the library.  This project was undertaken by the architectural practice of John McAslan and Partners.  Philip Davies of English Heritage is quoted as saying about the result of the refurbishment that,  “It is clear that the project is a success in architectural and heritage terms, and provides Camden with an excellent 21st century library facility. It demonstrates how change can be successfully achieved in listed buildings.  Through careful analysis and a sensitive design approach, the Council’s needs have been accommodated by means of a scheme that has also consolidated and clarified the building’s essential qualities. John McAslan + Partners has been exemplary in its approach to the project, and much credit for the success of the scheme is due to their involvement.”

Close Window