This £3 million transformation, opened February 2010, transforms a 1914 Grade II listed building to provide more space, better disabled access, new areas for private study and young people, meeting facilities for community use and quiet reading areas, and incorporates rain water harvesting, solar water heating, solar powered passive ventilation using windcatchers and automatically opening windows, optimum use of daylight, creative recycling of existing structures, and energy efficient lighting and heating systems. The original building was designed by Sir Edwin Cooper (knighted in 1923, Gold Medal for Architecture 1931), born out of the Free Library movement and funded by Scottish born steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Mid 20C ceilings have been removed to reveal barrel vaults and glazed toplit ceilings. The Battery Room, previously scheduled for demolition, is retained as the new reception.
A void between ground and first floor reading rooms allowed air and daylight to circulate but was filled in the 1970’s - we have opened it up and filled it with a new glass floor and grilles as part of the passive ventilation system. A two storey-zinc-clad extension with lift at the back of the site adds new office and meeting space, with a grand two-storey window giving views to the street. An elliptical ‘daylight funnel’ cut into the Battery Room roof provides daylight at the heart of the new reception area. An atrium allows views from reception to the first floor reading room. Cooper's simplicity of circulation and servicing is restored.
We were able to integrate furniture, shelving, graphics and signage with the design making a huge difference to the finished building. Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, opened the library and said: ‘The Council were determined that this 100 year old library should be an excellent resource for residents so have worked with the architects to create a design that offers users more space, better access, an improved stock range and facilities fit for the 21st century, while remaining sympathetic to the building's classic design’