The library sits at the heart of a £60m regeneration site, with its magnificent glass frontage overlooking the new city square.
Outer walls are clad with thousands of dark blue and green hand glazed ceramic tiles, recalling the 'mathematical' tiles on many historic Brighton buildings.
The ground and upper floor library halls are both double height spaces. Three single height, flexible perimeter spaces, for book storage, library activities and specialist functions, wrap around these central areas in a u-shape, on three sides.
The ground floor, a lively and welcoming venue, contains adult fiction, separate young people's and children's libraries, sound and vision library, exhibition area and a Book Lover's Store.
The mezzanine floor houses staff offices and a conference suite. The top floor is a 'floating' floor, linked by bridges to the perimeter accommodation, allowing light to flood from the roof-lights above to the ground floor below. It is the main reading area with reference and information stock, and the perimeter accommodation includes a study area and a large computer suite and separate learning centre.
Also on this level is the library's extensive rare books collection and reading room. For the first time these books have been brought together in a fully environmentally controlled and secure store, with a dedicated reading room for public access.
The library is designed to take advantage of the natural energy provided by the south coast setting - specifically sunshine and wind. The sun's energy is gathered through the spectacular south facing front glazed wall in winter, with built-in solar shading and automatically opening vents to reduce solar gain and glare in summer. Heat generated by people and equipment in the building is also harnessed and re-used.
Energy use has been minimised, as the building has a high thermal mass and a solid, heavy structure. Concrete floors are laced with hollow tubes in a structure called TermoDeck. Heat is stored in the floor and walls, being released slowly into surrounding areas as part of a low energy release ventilation and heating system.
Instead of air conditioning, natural ventilation enhanced by sea breezes refresh the atmosphere inside and cools the building. Five meter high wind towers on the roof use the breeze to draw excess heat, especially in summer, from the floors below.
Use of daylight is a key element of the design, both in terms of quality of the environment and of reduction of environmental impact and energy consumption. Daylight streams in from the front window and from skylights that run round the main halls. Artificial lights respond automatically to daylight sensors. Water use is minimised by the collection and re-use of rainwater for WC flushing.
Self service terminals enable customers to electronically check books in and out themselves, and staff 'walk the floor' to provide assistance when and where people need it.
A wide range of equipment and software increases access to library services. Adjustable study and computer tables are available and there is a wheelchair for public use. There are tactile floor plans and signage, and colour contrasting surfaces, in addition to computer software that magnifies text and screen reads converting text on screen to speech. There are eight accessible toilets in the building and four of these can take a motorised wheelchair.
Three stunning art installations were commissioned under the Per-Cent for Art scheme: 'Wall of a Thousand Stories' by Kate Malone, made up of 100 imaginative ceramic wall plaques to inspire story-telling; 'Uncover-Discover' by Georgia Russell, a cut paper installation suspended high above the library entrance, inspired by the dictionary definition of library; 'Liquidus' by Caroline Barton, elliptical seats in Jubilee Square made of sweet chestnut and acrylic, which light up at night.
Winner: Partnership Award & Delegates Choice Award, Public Library Building Awards, 2005., , Winner: Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award 2005., , Winner: British Construction Industry Building Projects Award 2005, , Winner: Sussex Heritage Trust - Community Award 2005, , Winner: Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers CIBSE Major Project of the Year 2005, , Winner: Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA Regional Award 2005, , Winner: Public Private Finance Awards - Operational Project with Best Design 2005, , Winner: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals CILIP Public Libraries Group Award 2005 - Partnership category , , Winner: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals CILIP Public Libraries Group Award 2005- Delegates Choice, , Winner: Concrete Society - Certificate of Excellence 2005, , Winner: British Urban Regeneration Association Best Practice in Regeneration Award for Best Design-led Regeneration Project. Award for whole site development 2005, , Winner: International Green Apple Awards 2006 for the Built Environment and Architectural Heritage , , Winner: Art and Work Award for a Site Specific Commission joint winner 2006, , Winner: Observer Ethical Award 2006 - Buildings Category , , Winner: Civic Trust Award 2006, , Shortlisted one of 6 international entries for the Stirling Prize, , We were also:, , The MJ 2006 Achievement awards - Public Private Partnership - finalist, , SCALA Society of Chief Architects of Local Authorities Civic Building of the year 2006, Major Project category - runner up, , LGC Awards 2006 Public /Private Partnership category - Commended
Type of library
Bennetts Associates, in association with Lomax Cassidy, Edwards
Features and services
Audiovisual/Multimedia areas, Equipment provision, Exhibition/display areas, Meeting rooms, Open learning provision, Provision of special materials, Retail outlets, Services to particular groups
Art works, Shared site, Materials
Design features, Structural
Access within building, Assistive technology, Critical distances
Services and facilities suppliers
General, Internet access, Number of public computer terminals: 60