At a time when some cash strapped councils are closing libraries and public finances are being squeezed, Lambeth Council is bucking the trend by opening the brand new £6.5 million public library on Clapham High Street.
Open seven days a week, it will house more than 20,000 books, and comes complete with a performance space for use by local community groups.
The building features a number of services under one roof including a new medical centre, café, internet zone and community rooms.
There are also 34computers available for public use, and the building has free wi-fi access.
And despite the £6.5 million construction costs, the library has come at no cost to the public purse as the building has been paid for entirely by the sale of 136 residential flats that form part of the new 12 storey development.
Featuring a distinctive spiral design that draws inspiration from Manhattan’s famous Guggenheim Museum, the library has been designed by world famous London based architects Studio Egret West. The glass fronted ground floor building makes full use of natural light, with books arranged in a spiral pattern around mezzanine floors that surround an open plan ground floor space.
The entire development has been built according to the most stringent environmental criteria. Carbon emissions have been reduced to 30 per cent below normal standards and normal water usage reduced by 30 per cent.
It is located in the heart of Clapham in the High Street, on the site of a former office block, Mary Seacole House.
Cllr Steve Reed, leader of Lambeth Council, said: “While other council’s are closing libraries, Lambeth has been able to open a brand new one in the heart of Clapham that will act as the centre of the community and vital learning space for local residents for many years to come.
“The fact we’ve been able to do this at no cost to the tax payer and through a period of recession makes this an even greater success story.
“This is an incredible new building, which is modern, light and airy, and it’s everything a modern library should be, with plenty of space for books and quiet reading, as well as up to date technology including free wi-fi, and a cafe. We are determined that everyone in Lambeth should have access to high quality library services, and this new library building is a fantastic addition to the borough’s existing library provision.”
The library is the second major new public building to open in Clapham in just 6 months, after the brand new Clapham Leisure Centre opened just a few hundred yards away on Clapham Manor Street as part of the same award winning ‘Clapham One’ regeneration scheme.
The landmark £80m scheme has seen Lambeth Council working with private developer Cathedral Group, United House and Notting Hill Housing Trust to transform leisure facilities in Clapham, funded entirely from the sale of private sector flats that form part of both developments.
The library building also contains a new medical centre thanks to a partnership between the council and the NHS. Andrew Eyres, Managing Director for NHS Lambeth, said:
“Reaching this stage is excellent news. This is an exciting opportunity for NHS Lambeth to work closely with the council on a project that brings together health and leisure on one site. This will be a great resource and is a significant step to improving the health and well-being of the people of Lambeth.”
Richard Upton, Chief Executive of Cathedral Group, said:
“Working in partnership with Lambeth Council we have been able to deliver high quality public facilities that will benefit the local community for years to come.
“The library is a stunning building and, together with the new leisure centre, demonstrates how significant regeneration schemes can be conceived and completed in today’s tough economic times, if the public and private sector work together entrepreneurially.”
The new Clapham Leisure Centre was the first new Leisure Centre to open in Lambeth for 30 years when it threw open its doors in February. Designed by LA Architects, it is of the highest standard and has been conceived and constructed following close consultation with the local community. Local people wanted the new centre to make the best use of natural light and space, and as a result, the design includes a dramatic barrel-vaulted roof over the swimming pool and also a bright, airy atrium-like reception
The new leisure facilities include a new multi-use four-court sports hall for basketball, badminton, indoor tennis, 5-a-side football and other indoor sports, 100-station fitness gym, a six-lane 25m swimming pool with movable floor and teaching pool, and dance, yoga and martial arts studios.
And work is also now well underway on a brand new Leisure Centre in nearby Streatham, including pool and ice rink. The Streatham Hub development, as it is known, is due to open at the end of next 2013.
Cllr Reed added: “This all adds up to among the biggest investment in sports and leisure facilities in Lambeth’s history and a fantastic boost to the borough in London’s Olympic Year. “
The Clapham One scheme was was highly commended on Thursday, June 21 at the national MJ Achievement Awards in both the ‘Public Private Partnerships’ and ‘Community Investor of the Year’ categories
Clapham Library is open:
- Monday – 1 to 8pm
- Tuesday – 10am to 6pm
- Wednesday – 10am to 8pm
- Thursday – 10am to 8pm
- Friday – 10am to 6pm
- Saturday – 9am to 5pm
- Sunday – 1 to 5pm
- While other boroughs are closing libraries, Lambeth Council has committed to keeping every library in Lambeth open and has pledged significant investment to improve buildings and introduce new technology.