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a community library Coventry

Part 1 Project 1998
Gregory Willis
University of Nottingham
A design for a community library in the heart of Coventry not only provided the opportunity to improve upon an uninspiring and largely unused site, but also to explore how a library can best serve and indeed belong, to its 'community'.

A 'community' library can be defined as many things. One role is, "to challenge the notion of the city as a centre of consumption available only to those with money." In this sense it should not be organised like a supermarket. Rather, the seeking and retrieval of
knowledge of any description should be celebrated. Neither should a 'community' library be considered a temple, as accessibility and assistance for all users is fundamental. Thus my library attempts to be as open and inviting as possible on the lower levels, with more
exciting and dynamic spaces reserved for the upper floors. The concept of consumption of information without the exchange of money is furthered on the ground floor, where a variety of free services within the library brief are designed to attract the public.

As the library is a civil building of significant public importance it has a large frontage that is designed to be seen from the distant flyover. The front of the building is set back from a perforated aluminium screen which forms a partially translucent barrier as well as protecting the adjacent out-spill cafe space. The building steps
back at the rear, allowing the 'quieter' reading spaces to command views of the Cathedral area and the building to engage with the garden, as can be seen in section.

The glass tube that runs throughout the length of the building over the main atrium, butting up against the perforated aluminium screen and punching through the curved roof, houses the local studies library. This special place is conceptually a 'looking glass' through the building, designed to remind the user of the relationship between the library and the city, which can be considered to be the 'ultimate library'.
Gregory Willis


A brief full of complexity and largeness was challenged and tackled by this student to produce a bold gesture of beautiful clarity and simplicity. And yet this boldness is contrasted by playfulness, a lightness of touch and free expression. At once a significant public building has been created. The sculptural form plays with the manipulation of light. This piece of work has also been explored and beautifully drawn at every level from the conceptual to the finished images, to produce a bold and yet accessible solution.

1998
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