Brighton‘s Jubilee Library has now been open since 2005 when it won the Prime Minister‘s Better Public Building Award. It is a £14 million landmark building which forms the focus of the £50 million Jubilee Square development which is nearing completion. It was built using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and the scheme was chosen from a short list of 14 from 169 competition entries. It is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the country.
The building is basically an open hall with the roof supported by a series of large concrete columns, with a mezzanine floor around the outside and a ―floating‖ top floor with clear views to the ground floor. On the ground floor, the main lending area has self service facilities and the children‘s library, bookshop, young persons‘ area and exhibition area. The first floor mezzanine gallery wraps around and overlooks the main hall and here are special collections, staff accommodation, and storage. On the top floor is the main reading area and a large IT suite.
As can be seen from the photograph, the building is light, airy and colourful, and is attracting a much higher usage – up to one million visitors a year – and has a book stock three times that in the old city library.
It is interesting to see what can be achieved using the PFI method of procurement as was also the case with the new Bournemouth library; it has certainly produced high-quality architecture and construction. The architects were Bennetts Associates with Lomax Cassidy Edwards and the contractor was Rok.
John Faulkner. Photo: CABE