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Introduction To Building Environments And Construction: BUIL-1166-M01-2013-14

Peckham Library

by Ria Carr

Contents 1. Factfile 2. Introduction 3. Air 4. Light 5. Ground 6. Water 7. Energy 8. Recycle 9. Synthesis 10. Conclusion

Location and Site: 122 Peckham Hill Street, London, SE15 5JR, England Building Occupants: The Public, Mixed Office Space, One Stop Shop Occupancy or Function Type: Library, Office Space, Catering Retail Mixed Occupancy: Yes Size (total sqm): 2,300 sqm Number of Storeys: 5 Owner: Southwark Council Architect: Alsop Architects Ltd Engineer: Adams Kara Taylor (AKT) MEP Engineers: Battle McCarthy General Contractor: Sunley Turriff Acoustics: AAD Lighting: Janet Turner Quantity Surveyors: S. Franklin & Andrews Submission of Bid to Completion: 5 Years Contract Awarded: 1997 Construction: 21 Months Date of Completion: 2000 Cost of Construction: £5 Million (approx.) Total Cost Including Interior and IT: £6.75 Million (approx)

About Peckham Peckham is one of the most deprived and poverty-stricken constituencies in the country. It is home to the highest proportion of African-Caribbean residents in the country. 6 in 10 houses are rented from the council Above: Peckham’s peace wall. Residents covered a boarded up shop-front in post it notes following the looting during the 2011 London riots.

Crime rates are high in Peckham, a typical characteristic displayed by poor areas. The demography of Peckham is youthful, this too is typical of economically deprived constituencies

The brutal murder of ten-year-old nigerian schoolboy Damilola Taylor who was stabbed in the leg with a broken glass bottle on his way home from the library shocked the entire nation. This tragedy was a contributing factor in deciding to invest in the regenration of Peckham.

About the Architect • Will Alsop is a British architect, born in 1947 • He learnt to draw at Northampton Art School • He studied Architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture • He has worked under many practices including: Alsop & Lyall, Alsop and Störmer, Alsop Architects and most recently All Design • He taught sculpture at Central Saint Martin’s Some of Alsop’s designs include: The Sharp Centre for Design, Toronto.

North Greenwich Tube Station, London

Chips residential building, Manchester

Site and surroundings

ggg 6.0m



Š Crown copyright/database right 2013. Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service. FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY.

Scale 1:500 0






Dec 13, 2013 00:57 30




50 m

Ria Carr University of Greenwich

An Introduction

Peckham Library opened to the public 8th March 2000 was constructed as part of the £260million Peckham Partnership regeneration scheme. Designed by British Architect Will Alsop renowned “for the unconventional shapes and coloration of his projects,”[1] it is the first library to ever be awarded the Stirling Prize.

Constructed on a budget of £5million, Southwark Councils instructions were to create a building of prestige for the local area, which would aid with regeneration. The library has been a huge success in beating annual visitor targets thrice, and has since undergone further refurbishment seeing upgrades in IT and additional tables and seating.

Disproving critical theories that locat- multi-coloured glass paneling, which ing the reading room on the fourth floor covers the entire rear elevation, used would discourage visitors. to represent the zoning/use of space inside of the library. The design of the exterior is particularly bold, the copper cladding as a The library has brought a new energy material choice is both dynamic and to Peckham, encouraging youth to enintriguing. In choosing a material that gage with educational spaces. It has reacts with its environment, Alsop has become a landmark, a building for the ensured an ever changing, self-pro- public which fills local residents with tecting facade. Not to mention the pride.

Air Peckham library prides itself on its passive ventilation system. There is minimal “solar gain” in summer as the glass façade faces north. The door from the stairs to the library can be opened to help create a natural ventilation corridor, airing the building. Cross-ventilation is achieved through opening windows and vents around the building and its exposed concrete skeleton absorbs any excess heat.

X Despite so much focus on its “natural ventilation system”, Peckham library receives additional help from a rather stand-out back box behind the building which provides extra ventilation and air conditioning in the summer. This was installed after the original build.

The orange tongue shape building acts as a shelter fo study center.

e on the roof of the or ventilation of the

Warm/hot air flow Cool air flow

Double-glazing throughout the entirety of the building makes for good thermal insulation. Radiators located inside the library warm the air through radiation. This hot air rises and the cooler air falls as a result of densities, creating circulating convection currents. The south facing wall of the library is cooled by the natural stack effect (cool air is drawn from the shaded space below the overhang of the library floor and passes up through the vents in the roof.)


The path taken by the sun around Peckham library during winter solstice. The position of the sun at various times of the day can be determined from this diagram. N

Reflected ceiling plan showing artificial lighting Spotlight type lighting fixtures are embedded into ceiling and the underbelly of the three pods. These l in permanent use, even unnecessarily when sunlig are sufficient in brightening the space. Arguably not efficient use of energy.

both the lights are ght levels the most

Light meter readings taken from several positions in the library. This data shows significant difference in the capabilitiy of natural light in comparison to artificial light in illuminating the library space. Recordings taken: 30/10/13












The structure of the library is made up of a concrete frame, reinforced with steel supports and covered in TECU速 patina horizontal copper sheet cladding and coloured glass. 1 The five-storey glass wall or facade is not something that can go unnoticed. It not only allows tremendous amounts of natural light to enter the building but the viewer on the outside to look into the soul of the building. Lift shafts and boiler rooms can be viewed, spaces not typically made visible to the public. The coloured glass gives the impression of zoning and allows you to determine the layout of the interior from an exterior viewpoint. 2 The materials chosen for the exterior of Peckham library are what make it a distinctive and dynamic piece of architecture. Winning the Copper Cladding Award in 2001, the choice of material creates a curious juxtaposition between the consistency of the horizontal grid panel arrangement and the natural dynamic of the material. It reacts to the elements, oxidising, ever changing its appear ance and colour, giving almost the impression of a living building with the ability to alter itself. 3 The concrete skeleton is exposed in the foyer of the buildings ground floor entrance. It is almost like looking up at a carcass.

4 The concrete skeleton is further exposed in the fourth floor library, providing both structural support for the pods and thermal mass. 5-6 The direction of the paving stones change to direct people into the building. Notice also the uneven cobble stones the surround the base of the building and steel supports, this is to deter vandalism. 7 The pods are constructed of a timber frame, and then covered with laminated veneer timber boarding. And finally 1.5mm thick aeroplane plywood has been patch worked over the entire structure, this is held into place with staples, which are only 8-9 The steel mesh corner reinforcements can be viewed in photograph‌ this is continued along the entire south-facing façade almost framing the cantilever. The angular design is in keeping with the dynamic theme of the building. Two of the seven steel supports holding up the over hang of the fourth floor library can also be seen. The obscure angles at which they stand are suggestive of an uncertainty in structural integrity of the building that it might just topple over any moment. 10 The paved area in which the library is situated, features: trees, benches, bins and even a Ping-Pong table. The surrounding streets are lit by street lamp and the area under the cantilever of the fourth floor library is lit by flood-


The TECU patina copper cladding has been oxidised pre-purchase giving the metal it’s green colour. Further exposure to weathering, in particular rainwater will cause the material to rust and change colour

During periods of precipitation, the cantilever acts as a shelter, providing an area for people to take cover. This climate graph is representation of the kinds of weather conditions that the library has to contend with in Peckham. February is the driest month with only 39mm of rainfall, November is the wettest with 61mm. The warmest month is July, temperatures have been known to reach over 30 degrees.

Ladies Gents

Disabled Childrens

Location of public toilets in the library

While information regarding the workings of plumbing in the library is limited. A Boiler can be viewed through the green glass panels on the north facade.

Greywater draininage, i.e. wastewater from wash hand basins and dishwashers (possibly utilised in the one stop shop cafe)

Energy Peckham library was designed in the late 90s when energy efficiency and sustainable design was not at the forefront of designers minds. Simple things in construction nowadays, for example: sourcing building materials locally to eliminate the need for transportation and hence reducing carbon emissions, were not even considered. The copper sheets were manufactured by KME AG in Germany and so needed to be shipped over to the UK, emitting carbon dioxide in the process. Even 13 years on, Peckham library still appears ignorant to being energy efficient. Artificial lighting in the library is switched on constantly throughout the day even when it isn’t required. The flood lights under the cantilever are on 24 hours a day, which is arguably idiotic in broad daylight.


This heat map shows major energy consumers in the southwark area, Peckham is among these. The thermostat in Peckham library maintains a temperature of 23 degrees. Studies suggest a comfortable temperature would be 19 degrees and every surplus degree costs an extra 10% in energy. Despite its few inefficencies, the design of peckham library as a building which attempts to heat and cool itself passively has to be admired. While it might not have been entirely successful in acheiving self-sufficiency, it wasnt a complete failure either. With a helping hand from air-conditioning in the warm summer periods, the library can maintain a comfortable temperature.


See above the location of mixed recycling points and general waste bins on the fourth floor. In an education and resource centre like a library, where build up of paper waste is inevitable, recycling becomes incredibly significant.

Mixed recycling is collected by Southwark council every saturday. Recyclable items include paper, card, plastic bottles, glass bottles, jars, tin cans, foil and tetra-pak food and drink containers. There are a number of general waste bins dotted around the plaza outside of the library as well as in-

Synthesis Is Peckham library a successful building? 13 years in and the building is yet to be phased by the elements. Alsop was terribly clever in his choice of copper cladding, a material that protects itself from weathering through oxidisation. It is structurally sound despite looking as though it has been temporarily propped up on wonky supports.The building is colourful and a new landmark for Peckham. It has been well designed to suit the afro-caribbean culture of the area and is an extremely popular facility. While it makes some attempt to moderate the temperature passively, it is no secret that the black box behind the building contains air conditioning and ventilation systems. I think we can cut Alsop some slack when it comes to the sustainability of the building given the fact it was designed and constructed before energy effeciency regulations were imposed.

Conclusion Conclusively, Alsop’s unorthodox library design is applauded in fulfilling it’s brief.

Bibliography • • -[1] • Apple Maps • Digimaps • • • php?ward=00begq&borough=md&period=year • • • • • jpg • • • • • • full/754_1_1.gif • recycling • Im8111ccombin.jpg

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Peckham Library