Canada Water Public Library, London

Date Built
Canada Water, London
In an article in the Observer on Sunday, December 4, 2011, Rowan Moore celebrated the fact that, whilst government cut backs were causing the closure of many libraries, the London Borough of Southwark was not only keeping all of theirs but they had opened a brand new one that he described as a "celebratory building".  He described it as, " ... an inverted pyramid, clad in bronzed aluminium, so as to 'look civic and grand without being pompous'."  He added that inside there is, " ... a big, wooden spiral stair at the centre, which rises from a constrained ground floor up to a bright, expansive top floor ringed with a gallery. Below is mostly cafe; above is where the books are ... "

Moore suggests that the architect has found a positive solution to a practical question – how to put a library on a site too small for it.  The architects say on their website that, "The idea of a free standing object in space is quite appropriate for a library, since it is a portal to the discovery of other worlds. As a piece of sculpture it binds together a tube station, a stretch of open water and a plaza and makes the precursor landmark of a substantial new development on London’s Canada Water.  The inverted pyramid form contains a readily accessible café, performance space, internet points and popular books within a small footprint at ground level, whilst the expanding shape above enables the containment of the main library within a single, galleried, skylit double volume."

The building is clad in perforated anodized aluminium sheets which, I suspect, may draw it comparisons with a cheese grater.