The LEED® Gold Certified Surrey City Centre Library marks the next phase of a major civic investment in the transformation of downtown Surrey. With advances in easily available electronic information, the role of libraries is changing and the book collection is no longer the central focus. The building design evolved out of the need to provide a space for reading, studying, and above all, gathering as a community. The library features large windows, a welcoming entrance with clear sight lines that allow visitors to quickly orient themselves in the space, and an upward winding central atrium and two skylights that allow natural light into the building.
Utilising state of the art computer modelling software, Bing Thom Architects was able to ensure that the concrete formwork was highly efficient and easy to construct. The exterior concrete structure was carefully detailed as the final surface, thereby eliminating the need for expensive building cladding. The outward sloped walls also provide solar shading. Together with the Surrey librarians, BTA developed a social media strategy using blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to engage the community in the design of the building, encouraging the public to post comments and photos, thereby making the City Centre Library arguably the first public building in the world to be designed with the aid of social media.
The interior is conceived as a series of different height spaces organised around a central atrium with sunlight from the atrium skylight streaking and shifting across the walls. Spaces within the library are a diverse mixture of large interconnected “high” spaces with generous natural light and “low” more intimate spaces to accommodate the book stacks and individual activities like studying and writing. One of the most dramatic spaces is the “living room,” a casual double height reading area adjacent to massive windows overlooking a public plaza to the east. Spaces have been deliberately kept informal to make the library feel like an extension of the patron’s home.
Design and info © Bing Thom Architects
Images © Nic Lehoux and Ema Peter