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Peckham Library

A dramatic design resembling an upside-down 'L' of coloured glass and green copper. A pure 21st century building. RIBA Award Winner 2000.


Alsop and Stormer



122 Peckham Hill Street SE15 5JR

Sat 10am-5pm/Sun 1pm-5pm. Sat 11am, 2pm/Sun 2pm tours to non-public areas. Max 25 per tour.

Elephant and Castle (then bus 12, 63, 171, 343)

Peckham Rye

  • Access for wheelchair users
  • Regularly open to the public at no charge
  • Toilets available

PECKHAM LIBRARY Regeneration of PeckhamThe original Peckham Library was bombed in WWII and replaced by a Nissan hut (temporary _ but used for 50 years _ see opposite the library). The temporary library was inadequate to meet the needs of the community, and the high demand for modern services, etc.Ten years ago _ high rise housing, high crime, high deprivation. Regeneration planned to combat these issues. œ265 million, 7 year Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) programme for regeneration of Peckham _ mainly housing but also included key community facilities on the new square (Pulse healthy living centre, library, Peckham Arch and landscaping of the new Peckham Square). New low-rise housing _ mixed owner-occupied and social housing. All designed to have good sight lines, community focus (square), etc to create safe and welcoming community environment. Peckham crime is being combated and Peckham is becoming a desirable place to live (gentrification, rising house prices, lively market, etc). The Library is one of three strategic libraries in Southwark (the others are at Dulwich and Newington) to cover the centre of the borough, replacing two small libraries in the local area.The building was funded from SRB money, Council investment to be paid back by Southwark Library Service over a 10 year period and by closing two small libraries in the immediate area (old Peckham and North Peckham). The building _ designThe Lbrary took five years from submission of bid to opening (21 months for construction). Construction cost: approx. œ5 millionTotal cost inc. fees, fitting out, IT and new stock: approx. œ6.75 million (œ1.25 million SRB contribution to library construction cost)Design brief to architects _ wanted it to be light, to have flexible use which could change as library needs changed, to be safe and welcoming (given high crime and community fears), and also to be energy efficient.Design brief followed in use of lots of glass, double height ceilings, open Peckham Square (used for festivals, outdoor events & a Farmers Market). Library Service has added CCTV and security staff at busy times following the death of Damilola Taylor in 2000.Designed by well-regarded architects – Alsop & St”rmer (Will Alsop). The building won the 2000 Stirling Award for architectural innovation. Also won the Civic Trust Award (April 2002) for excellence in public architecture (along with the Millennium Eye wheel and Tate Modern)Concrete structure designed to take extra floors (double height ceiling in foyer on ground floor), creating extra space if necessary (although there are no plans for this). _L_ shape of building due to the fact that where Peckham Square sits used to be an electric substation (hence could not be built over). Designed to be striking, challenging traditional views of libraries as staid Victorian buildings. Explores light and colour through a use of textures and materials _ concrete, steel, patinated copper (which won the Copper Cladding Award in 2001).Building is designed to be energy efficient _ it is naturally ventilated (no air conditioning) but with automatic mechanical assistance to the ventilation in the pods.ContractorsMain Contractor _ Sunley Turriff.Quantity Surveyors _ Franklin & Andrews; Structural Engineers _ Adams, Kara, Taylor; Mechanical & Electrical Consultant _ Battle McCarthy; MeasurementsTotal area of building: approx. 2,500 sq. meters Library area (actual public space): approx. 1,200 sq. metersLearning Centre on 2nd Floor: 250 sq. meters (public & staff)One Stop Shop on Ground Floor: 90 sq. meters (public) Meeting room on 5th Floor: approx. 60 sq. meters (maximum capacity 50 people)The building _ usageShared usage to maximise rent and attract residents to joined-up services _ One Stop Shop, Learning Centre & Library togetherGround floor _ One-Stop ShopProvides information on Council and non-council services _ health, benefits, housing issues. The service complements library and learning centre services provided in the same building.Architect-designed timber-covered curving pod and counter. Room Maximises light. Open-tulip design of the Pod is organic, working well with angular room space. It is used as an office above and a private meeting space below. Second Floor _ Learning Centre (open access to foyer area ONLY)Library leases space to Southwark Education, Training & Advice for Adults (SETAA), which generates income for the library service (which owns the whole building)More visitors in the first three months than were expected in six months. Provides access to LearnDirect and other online careers and employment information. Offers advice and basic courses designed to get people back into work. Mini pods _ timber clad. The acoustics were designed to circulate sound within and not beyond the consultation pods, ensuring privacy.Second floor houses the building_s servers and other IT. Third Floor _ staff floor (closed access)Non-public areas in the building have limited space available _ for backroom stock, 30 staff working in the building at busy times and for management space. Also houses electrical cables. Can see wire mesh against glass at the front of the building. This is for security and is also a design feature exploring use of different textures. Fourth Floor – The LibraryOpened to the public: 8th March 2000. Official opening by Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport: 15th May 2000Library building is an architect-led project- prestigious, but some things not entirely suited to a library purpose. Library = what we thought we needed 5 years ago (does not have a buggy park, reference area, large enquiry desk, separate teen library). Problems with open-plan space & noise levels.5th floor pods (closed access except by appointment)Children_s pod _ Not rented out _ for Library use only. Used for Under 5s and other events. Has a stage and wet and dry play areas and double floor so that ICT can be put anywhere (therefore flexible usage).Meeting Pod _ loan out to community groups and commercial organisations as a community resource and income generatorLibrary UsagePeckham Library is not designed to be a central library _ although the public have expectations that it will provide all the facilities of a central library (reference services, silent study room etc), which there is no space for.Library stock: c. 60,000 (books & audio visual)Study spaces: 60 (inc. 27 PC spaces)Average visits on a busy day _ 1000 people. Wednesday after Easter 2001 _ 2,500 visitors. High usage means that it is difficult to provide one-to-one service.570,000 visits, 2,400 new borrowers & 340,000 issues in 2001/02. Negative effect on other libraries nearby _ suffering fall in issues, although total visitors overall is rising. Note DVD collections & Disability software. Introducing Playstation games soonPeckham Library Issues and Visitor Figures from 1999 to 2004YearIssuesVisitor Figuresÿ2000/2001 385,194 / 535,5892001/2002 338,940 / 565,5082002/2003 311,699 / 575,2732003/2004 292,566 / 377,192African-Caribbean pod (central pod _ enter from main library on 4th floor)Separate African-Caribbean section as a result of consultation with the local community (Peckham has high proportion of African-Caribbean people, yet usage by these ethic groups was low in the old Library). The excitement of the building architecturally, and the fact that the library is open every day of the week have turned this round. We are also increasing library usage through intensive reader development projects like regular Adult Reading Group, Teenage Reading Group & Family Reading Group sessions. The Transformation project, funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport extended work with African-Caribbean community through workshops on creative writing and storytelling, etc, a video booth and one year writer in residence to create website of local writing.Children_s library _ fourth floor Coloured glass _ adds to atmosphere and feel for children Views of St Pauls, Tate Modern, Millennium Wheel & the City open up London to local people who might not feel part of the excitement and prosperity that is our capital city. The view opens horizons for young people. Is part of the Regeneration of Peckham. Homework Help Club held there several times a week.