BDP responded to the prominent site, immediately opposite to the anchor department store for the new development, with a bold and colourful building at the convergence of two pedestrianised streets, whose retail and cafe activities spill into the public realm, and a significant proportion of the new library ground floor is given over to restaurant use.
There is a constant buzz of activity to two sides at ground level, with the library foyer occupying another side of the roughly triangular footprint, and the elevations above are articulated with glazed facades formed in storey bands of vertical ‘hit and miss’ stripes and shading fins. The third, quieter side receives a more sombre patinated copper cladding which is visually recessive and in keeping with the anonymous elevations of neighbouring brick buildings.
Reflecting its contemporary attitude to both design and to literature, the new building was opened in 2009 by the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers, whose lyric “Libraries gave us power…” is quoted on the commemorative plaque. Their quoted song is “A Design for Life” which seems an appropriate sentiment for a bold and accessible new public library at the heart of the capital city.