Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Canada Water Library

click photo to enlarge
At a time when budget cuts have reduced public library funding, when libraries are closing, their services are being reduced, and the very idea and future of the public library as a repository of books and information is under question due to the depth and extent of internet access, it is uplifting to find politicians who are following a different course. The London Borough of Southwark has bravely bucked the trend of closure and contraction, not only keeping its 12 existing libraries open but adding a new one in the form of this bold and unusual building at Canada Water.

On the day I first saw the library we had driven into London on the M11 and had passed a convoy of armoured personnel carriers in desert camouflage being transported on lowloaders. The angularity of this building and its brown metal cladding reminded me of those vehicles. In their case the inclined sides are designed to deflect projectiles that come from the side and from IED and mine blasts from below. The building, however, is this shape in order to fit more floor space on this small site by the edge of the former dock. The design is the responsibility of Piers Gough of the architects CZWG and he has come up with a building that adds distinction to its location. Not unusually for this practice it is characterful and upbeat, rather like their China Wharf (1988) on the Southwark Thames and their nearby house, two buildings with which I am more familiar. We passed the library on the way back from a walk so there was no time to look inside at the big wooden spiral staircase in the centre of the interior or the gallery around the top. Nor was I able to take a shot of it from the other side of Canada Water to show it in relation to the dock. Perhaps next time I'll get to do both those things. This recent blog post shows more of the building, including the entrance.

The library is next to Canada Water station, one of London Underground's newer buildings. It too is an essay in metal but this time polished stainless steel formed into great cylinders. It can be seen on the right of the black and white shot in front of a block of flats.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On