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14009226 I BE1340 I 2733 Words I Design Technology 2

The new city library also known as “Charles Avison Building” is a homage to the English composer Charles Avison, was designed to be civic landmark of the city. It’s location and proximity to both universities, city centre and central station, the library provides a catalyst for regeneration of the run down area of the city (The Avison Ensemble,2016).



This case study focuses on the pre-design stage of construction. A number of points are discussed in this report from client brief, history of site as well as an insight into the site and constraints.

Spatial Functions

Employers Requirements



Site Analysis



Facts & Figures




About The Sector







What is a library?

Over the years the meaning and the use of a library have significantly changed in terms of client use and needs. Historically a library was a place of silent reading and where the older members of society would complete work. Today a library has developed in terms of what it offers to users and society in terms of: • Provide a cultural & social focal point for the community • Functional & multi-purpose • Access to the latest technology • Provide a wide range of areas for reading, relaxation, socialising, leisure & learning • Contribute to environmental sustainability (State Library of New South Wales, 2012) Yet the traditional services of borrowing and borrowing of library materials is still there.

About the sector:

About The Sector

“Every community is unique” (State Library of New South Wales, 2012) therefore every public initiative requires a great insight into the community’s needs, demands and aspirations. With libraries it is important that the services and information provided is current and flexible to the changes that occur both in technology & social attitude. When a new library is under commission it tends to fall into a bigger a picture, whether that is to solve a certain issue e.g. unemployment or to serve as part of a greater plan for the city. Determining the type of library that best suits a community requires a planning strategies & a needs assessment. Identifying changes in social and demographic trends is vital to the success of a public library and service. To remain relevant libraries are required to have a holistic view and take full advantage of these trends (State Library of New South Wales, 2012). Social capital: Libraries are designed to allow communities of different backgrounds to network and potentially develop their relationships together. The benefits are a creation of a strong community. In essence a library is an investment to bring communities together and create a positive learning environment for all that enter the building. Libraries provide a safe haven for, where people can feel part of a broader community (Cox et al, 2000 and PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2005). Newcastle city library was one of the largest library PFI undertaken in the UK (Kajima,2016)


Awards: • Mixology North Awards 2009 • Lord Mayor’s Design Awards 2009 • Public and private finance awards And many more Source (Newcasytle City Library Notes,2009)


Charles Avison Building 33 New Bridge Street West Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AX 54.9749° N, 1.6104° W Approximately 54 meters above sea level.

Source (Kajima,2016)

Figure (Wikimedia, 2009)

Client: Newcastle City Council Construction Value: £24m Date of Completion: 03/2009 Project Type: New Build Procurement Type: PFI Main Contractor: Tolent Construction Architect: Ryder Architects

Source (Architectural, 2016)

Figure (Bessant, 2008)


•City Library achieves a Building Research Establishment Environmental •Assessment Method (BREEAM) “Very Good” rating •Grey water recycling to flush toilets •30 square metres of Solar panels installed on the roof • Daylight linked background lighting Opening Hours (City Library Newcastle Notes, 2009) Mon 10:00-19:00 Tue 10:00-19:00 Wed 10:00-19:00 Contact Details: Thu 10:00-19:00 Phone:0191 277 4100 Fri 10:00-17:00 Email: Sat 10:00-16:00 Source (Newcastle City Library Notes,2009) Sun 10:00-16:00


Figure (newcastlephotos, 2010a)




The industrial revolution played a pivotal role in the development of Newcastle. The city was a hub for jobs which attracted families to move to the city. The layout of the city, building materials, design were all part of the revolution. It was only until 1878 that the city saw its first free public library, it was open to the public in 1882.

Figure (Phethean, 2009)

Figure (Central Library archive,2016)

Former librarian Arthur Wallace describes it as “Victorian… the main building has an imposing façade of stone carvings. The entrance hall had a very good Italian mosaic floor, laid by Italian workmen brought in especially”. Once again the influence in materials employed was the result of the industrial revolution as well as the wealth that it brought. The “wealthier” families of the time were able to afford to go on grand tours, as a result they were able to bring with them some architectural influences. Over the years, libraries changed in terms of function and requirements. The growing population, change in fashion and requirements resulted in the Victorian library no longer being fit for use.

recorded that book issues had expanded by over 25%, borrowing also increased by nearly 60%. (Local Collection).

Figure (newcastlephotos, 2010)

Figure (Bessant, 2009)

By the end of 1946 Newcastle City Council was able to approve plans for a new library. Prior to this, the council decided to redesign the road system in order to relieve the traffic however the Victorian library stood in the way. Figure (Phethean, 2009)

This redevelopment plan by the council was advocated by the modernist architect Le Corbusier

Figure (Crocker, 2009)

It was only until 1963 that the Victorian library was demolished to make room for the new library. Sir Basil Spence & Partners were commissioned by Newcastle city council to design and construct the new library in 1966.

The new library was completed as part of the first stage of the redevelopment of Newcastle City Centre. It formed part of the proposed ‘Arts and Library plan’, which along with a proposed extension to the Laing art gallery and museum, formed one side of an upper-level square built over John Dobson Street. The square was to hold outdoor exhibitions and be busy with street traders during the day. It was to be connected to the new, high-level pedestrian deck that would run through the whole city centre – a key feature of T. Dan Smith and Wilfred Burns’ plan for the centre of Newcastle. However, with these plans were only partially realised, and with the deck-level of the city all but abandoned, the building struggled to fulfil the grand plan. As a result of this grand urban vision, there were pedestrian entrances to the library on each of the first three floors which contributed to a somewhat disparate arrangement of functions inside and killed any activity at street level. The library was unified behind a grill of vertical concrete ‘louvres’ or fins which ran around the outside giving texture and shadow to the building’s façade, but leaving the interior dim and wholly defendant upon artificial light. The library was demolished in 2006 with Ryder Architecture completing a new central library on the site in July 2009. The new library connects far more successfully at street level and at the upper level. The new library was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 6 November 2009.

The new library was finally open to the public in 1970, on a different site to the previous library. During the first 10 months of the opening, it was Figure ()

The total cost of carrying out the scheme was estimated in 1946 to be about £5000, however there was an increase of £8,700 in the actual cost (Newcastle City Library Local collection).

Figure (O’Donoghue-MEN, 2015)

Source (something concrete + modern, 2016)


Employers Requirements

Design Brief:


The brief for the library was to create a building that will ‘Delight & Inspire’. The following is the design brief that was sent out to the short listed bidders:

Easy To Self-Orientate:


The main entrance to the library was from Princess Square, whereby customers had to walk a distance before they had sight of any books. Access to the rest of the floors from ground level was via an enclosed staircase or lift, neither of which allowed customers to envision where they were. The vision for the new library was to ensure that no matter what entrance you used, the clear signage and open plan layout allows the customer to easily orientate themselves.(City Library Newcastle Notes, 2009). The use of colour was a key instrument into easing customers to self-orientate themselves.

Transparency: At the time concrete was a ‘fashionable’ material to use in the built environment, a brutalist and hard material to use for a library, as a result “it’s function was unclear which often resulted in it being confused with an office block or a multi storey car park” (City Library Newcastle Notes,2009). Newcastle city council wanted a building that was “transparent” in order for the passer-by to be attracted to what was going on internally.

As always communication is vital in to the success of the project. In this case in order for the library to be a success, not only did it have to meet the council requirements, but also the end user. Librarians and the general public were a key part in the design brief and feedback. Not just that but the designers also wanted to ensure that they could future proof the library. Technology and our personal taste are not the only thing that is changing, but also cities are changing in terms of function. Ian Kennedy from Ryder architecture suggested “City Centres will be about entertainment & social gatherings, as shopping and information can be gathered on-line”.

The previous city library was hidden away from the main City Centre (Northumberland street), as a result the building had no street frontage (City Library Newcastle Notes, 2009) and little recognition. It was made clear to the architects that visibility was vital, and being able to see the library from Northumberland Street was the priority.


One of the reasons the old library had to be demolished was because it went “out of date” it didn’t function with the developments in technology. A library was no longer a place to read, it became a place to socialize and catch up with friends (Ian Kennedy,2009) . Self-service was also an area that enabled staff to roam freely around to assist customers, instead of having to stand around to renew books or DVD borrows. As a result the brief for the new library was intended to be 100% self-serviced (City Library Newcastle Notes, 2009)

On the other hand not everything changes. The library had to operate on the same staffing level, with streamlined self service and ease of access to information Stakeholders were also made aware of the design and were given the opportunity to raise any concerns

Making Treasures Available:

Providing customers with access to collections that they previously did not have access to was another necessity added to the brief. Special attention to lighting and moisture content would have to be carefully considered

Delight & Inspire:

Not only was the city council involved in coming up with the brief, but librarians were also involved in coming up with a brief that would sum up the new library ‘A building that will delight & inspire” (Ryder,2009)

Figure (Chronicle and Administrator, 2014)


Spatial Functions & Materials

Figure (Phethean, 2009)

Spatial Functions

The need for the new library to be flexible and adaptable was a necessity due to the fast developments in technology (Ryder,2009) and the growing population. This resulted in flexible floor plates, as well one-off design of storage and racks in order to accommodate future changes (Ryder,2009). The previous library adapted security barriers, forbidden screened areas and dark “dungeon like” environment, the new library was to break from this feel as well as energise the surrounding environment. The cafe was designed a social space that could spill out during the warmer season to create a “buzz” in the square. Utilizing the use of a steel frame has resulted in the library spanning freely, it also allows for no internal support as the steel grid frame is able to transmit all the loads to the ground safely. Another advantage of using a steel frame is that it allows for flexibility and adaptability for future changes. Walking towards the library via Princess street you will spot a glass structure overhang. Part of using the steel frame has allowed for the client’s brief of the library being “visible” to be met. The open floor plan scheme was also adapted by Sir Basil Spence in the previous library. The use of colour is one of the key function of the design plan. Each colour is used to distinguish between floors and genres. Matching coloured furniture, plinths non Bewick court and the lighting of the facade followed the same colour scheme.


As we go forward, we must recognize the meaningful contribution that the library can provide if planned correctly. The goal of effective planning is to make the experience and services of the library transparent to the user. Rather than hide resources, the library should bring them to the user, creating a one-stop shopping experience. Whether users access e-mail, digitized resources, or special print collections, or are reformatting and publishing a paper, the library should be the place to enable them to advance their learning experiences. (Bennett and Council on Library and Information Resources, 2006) The change in the stairs is also evident, from level 1-4 there is double stair way, however from level 4 to 6 only a signal lane stair path has been used. The main blue box on New Bridge street provides a visual link with as well as a creating a link to Laing Gallery & Thomas Heatherwicks blue carpet square. It is evident that level 4 has been inspired by the malmo library, as not only is a children’s area but also the North end is an adult fiction and newspaper area as well as a business IP centre. The idea of integrating the different age categories in theory is a great idea, however having spoken to members of staff, it became evident that this was not well utilised. The spatial function that has been adopted by the library, also allows for future needs to be accounted for. Figure (Lomholt and admin, 2009)


as a result reliance the building relied heavily on mechanical cooling, ventilating and other services, which in time increased the cost of running the library (Clive Fenton,2013). The façade was faced with concrete panels with exposed aggregate, with the sub podium level clad in blue engineering brick, with giant vertical white concrete fins three storeys high, which clasp to the building within a grid (Clive Fenton, 2013)

The foundations were kept and were reused for the new library to be built upon. Structural engineers ensured that the foundations were safe to use. This consisted of institute slabs which were 3ft thick and 2-13ft wide and long to form the ground floor. Polystyrene blocks were also used to fill in any gaps. The new library adapted a contemporary architectural style, with a glazed curtain wall facade protected by aluminium louvres on New Bridge Street (South Face), whereas on both Lisle Street and Princess Square the facade (Bessant, 2008) employee a combination of curtain walling and The transition in the materials that a metal rain screen cladding. (Ryder,2009) were employed is evident both The plinth and staircase are constructed internally and externally. from polished masonry block that are solidly The first library employed a Victorian grounding the building (Ryder, 2009) style of architecture, the façade “The advent of glass became more than a was constructed using sandstone, means of keeping the weather out, but it a similar façade to that of the is a portal to another place, a transporter. Theatre Royal on Greys Street. What glass could do, interested Ryder when The neoclassical style was major developing the city library. pregion at the time.” architectural style that can be (NBS,2016). Over 1500 square metres of a recognized around the city Centre, new generation of temperable solar control so it is without doubt the first glass from Saint Gobain which gives a high public library adapted a similar level of neutrality whilst reducing heat at the style. The entrance hall made a same time. Each of the large 276 panels, grand statement with “mosaic floor, which were typically 1500 x 4050 mm in size, laid by Italian workmen brought in had to be bonded correctly within a unitised especially” (Arthur Wallace,2009). Schuco system and individually referenced, Sir Basil Spence library was a produced and packed in sequence so that they brutalist concrete structure with a could be installed in order on site to create reinforced concrete frame. Some this stunning image. would describe it looking like a radiator, and to no surprise one of Curtain wall Contractor: concretes characteristics is being Dane Architectural Systems able to hold on to heat.



For Ryder Newcastle Central Library was the first library they had to design, however having not designed a library before, it meant that the architects had to find inspiration from somewhere. This resulted in some of the lead designers to carry out a number of library visits both in the UK and around Europe. Having won the project it was clear that the new library would be home to regional archives, which meant that the library had to provide an environment that would meet BS5454 so where better for Ryder to visit the The British Library, which at the time was the only library designed to meet BS5454 for a library. Greater emphasis has been placed on the provision of stable environments for archival storage within recommended ranges of temperature and relative humidity, with minimal mechanical intervention. In addition an inergen gas fire suppression system was also installed as an added safety measure. Context

• Floor area 8,300 square metres • Building 28metres high • 1,050 square metres of glazing to John Dobson Street • 550 square metres of glazing to New Bridge Street Level 6 • 820 square metres of rainscreen Level 5 s panels - over 1,000 panels tudie al S s Level 4 Loc m o o • 127 steps in the staircase leading to R g n Level 3 ratio eetin inist ite, M m the Viewing Gallery d u r S f, A tion all Level 2 Staf ompute , Fic wick H le • Atrium 15.5 metres high, volume p C Level 1 Peo he, Be ng You e, crec 5,700 cubic metres & Caf dren tion Chil -Fic • Concrete - 4,000 cubic metres n o N n & atio • Reinforcement - 500 Tonnes m r Info • Structural Steel -1,000 Tonnes • 12 km of shelving (c. 7.5 miles) • Entrance via Princess square on level data provided by Virtual NewcastleGateshead 2 and the “new” entrance via New @ Northumbria University ©2012 Bridge street on level 1 Source (City Council Notes,2009)

(FutureLearn, no date)

(Drömmarnas Hus, 2013)



Reinforced Concrete Frame

• • • • • • •

Steel Frame (Morley and Wrong, 2010)

• • •

(ArkFinder, 2006)

By no means did the visits end there, Ryder decided to visit some of the most successful libraries in Europe. The main 2 being “The Black Diamond Library”, with the main inspiration coming from Malmo Central Library.


• •

(RoMie, 2015)

• • • •

High compressive strength Due to reinforcement can withstand high tensile stress Maintenance is relatively low Requires less skilled labour for erection of structure Tensile strength is still low compared compressive strength Any small change in order concrete will have a major impact on the concrete strength Shrinkage causes cracks and loss of strength High strength/ weight ratio & fatigue strength Ductility: Can undergo large deformation before failure Predictable Material Properties Properties do not considerably change over time Speed of erection (Prefabrication and mass production) Quality assurance High Cost Fireproofing Susceptibility to buckling

Facts & Figures


Image (Which,2016)

Site Analysis & Transport Links

Transport: Located in the city centre, the library has a number of transport options available. There are a number of bus stops outside the library as well as drop off outside of the library to aid those that require either dropping off a easy access into the library. Both Monument and Haymarket stations are within walking distance to the library. As well as that the library has been retrofitted to allow for cyclist to safely lock their bikes.

Foundations: Prior to the demolishment of the old library, the foundations were kept and were reused Sunpath July 2016 for the new library to be built upon. Structural Surise 4:48 engineers ensured that the foundations were safe to Sunset: 21:37 use. This consisted of institute slabs which were 3ft Source (SunCalc,2016) thick and 2-13ft wide and long to form the ground floor. Polystyrene blocks were also used to fill in any gaps. Surrounding Boundaries: The constraints that surround the library include both man made and natural constraints, both influence the design, function and the performance of the library. Natural Constraints: This includes the impact of location in terms of climate in terms of sun path, wind direction, average Sunpath October 2016 Surise 7:37 temperatures etc. which will all influence the design Sunset: 18:08 and taken into consideration.


Transport Links

Ground Conditions: The ground conditions for the city library have been recorded to be slowly permeable, seasonally wet, slightly acid but base rich in loamy and clayey soils (Soilscapes,2016). The texture of the ground is described to have a mix of sand, silt and clay sized particles (Soilscapes,2016).

Source (SunCalc,2016)

Source (Google Maps,2016)

One of the main disadvantages of having many options of transport is the traffic caused. The disadvantage of the location is John Dobson street, due to the previous plans of the city council in 19th century transforming the street into a railway line, it has till this day caused a lot of unnecessary constraints to the site. With works on John Dobson street ongoing till today.

Figure (Nexus,2013)

Figure (Quinn, 2005)

Figure (Council,2016)

Cycle Hub: “Newcastle is one of eight cities awarded Cycling Ambitions Funding resources from the Government and this is a very ambitious project” John Litherland. A £1m plan has been brought to life in the city centre with work still ongoing today. The schemes forms parts of making Newcastle one of the safest and easiest cities to get around (Ged Bell,2016) Servicing: The library achieved a BREEAM rating of “Very good” via a number of methods, from reusing the slate tiles of the previous library, Portland stone is used for display plinths, as well as using carpet tiles made of recycled materials which can be found on floors 3 to 6. Solar panels are placed on the roof of the library, which provides the electricity to preheat the domestic hot water. A rainwater system is also utilised to provide water to flush toilets.(Kevin Choy,2011) Climate control i.e windows are opened automatically via sensors temperable solar control glass r Project Constraints: Before any work began on-site, local buildings had to undergo a building survey to ensure no damage would be caused as a result of the construction works. Work onsite was also only to commence between 8-6 weekdays and 8-1 Saturday (Bowler et al., 2010) Conclusion In the first years of the new library, number of visits increased largely, however the library had to adapt. As a result a number of retrofits were required to ensure that the library would still be a civic landmark to the city. Park B will be unravelling some of the technical and architectural failures that were noticed upon a number of visits to the library.


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 20. Newcastle University (2015) Connect with us. Available at: undergraduate/newcastle/ (Accessed: 26 October 2016).  21. newcastlephotos (2010b) Central library. Available at: http://newcastlephotos.blogspot. (Accessed: 26 October 2016).  22. Nexus (2013) Nexus. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2016).  23. Nixon, A. (2015) Case Study: Newcastle City Library. Available at: adamnixonat/docs/w11012224_case_study_final_reduced_ (Accessed: 26 October 2016).  24. O’Donoghue-MEN, D. (2015) North east readers still love the library - despite national decline. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2016).  25. Phethean, E. (2009) A history of the city library in Newcastle. Newcastle upon Tyne: Tyne Bridge Publishing.  26. Quinn, M. (2005) Geograph: Newcastle city library, Charles Avison... (C) Mike Quinn. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2016).  27. RoMie, S. (2015) Steel-vs-concrete and timber. Available at: sheerazgulabro/aquib-steelvsconcrete (Accessed: 2 November 2016).  28. Soilscapes (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 26 October 2016).  29. State Library of New South Wales (2012) People places: A guide for public library buildings in new south wales. 3rd edn. Sydney, N.S.W.: State Library of NSW.  30. The Avison Ensemble, T.A.E. (2016) The Charles Avison building. Available at: http://www. (Accessed: 26 October 2016).2016).  31. Which 2016 (2016) Newcastle university (N21) - which? University. Available at: http:// (Accessed: 26 October 2016).  32. Wikimedia (2009) File: Newcastle city library west facade full.JPG - Wikimedia commons. Available at: JPG (Accessed: 27 October 2016).


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