Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 09

Internal view from extension towards what was the listed building exterior

Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 08

Rear elevation showing listed building and extension

Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 07

Internal view from the extension towards listed building

Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 06

Glass wall between the main library and workroom

Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 05

Internal roof structure

Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 04

Extension - view from the listed building

Horsforth Library and Mechanics Institute 02

Listed building and extension reflected into a car roof



The scheme itself comprises an extension to and the refurbishment and revival of the C19th Grade II listed Mechanics' Institute.

The library provides Horsforth town and surrounding areas with a community facility that meets the leisure and learning needs of our society, both now and in the future.

The facility accommodates a greater collection of books, a state-of-the-art IT suite, 'quick book browse' racks, comfortable seating areas and public toilets. The building also houses the Town Council, Mechanics' Institute Ball Room and the Historic Horsforth Collection.

The project came about in order to fulfil a number of needs within the town of Horsforth:

- to enhance the town's streetscape as part of a regeneration project of the town, replacing an overgrown, undervalued site with an attractive, functional building.

- to create a new focal point at the heart of the town.

- to improve the library, technology and community facilities available.

- to replace the existing library that no longer complied with DDA and Health and Safety regulations.

- to maintain and enhance the Mechanics' Institute, bringing it back from the 'brink' to be used once again by the community.

A comprehensive design was developed to ensure that the structure, appearance and functions of the building worked in harmony to deliver all the requirements of the project. This was realized by the design, client and construction teams working closely together on the development of the scheme through the design and construction stages to achieve a high quality finish. Specific sections were also developed with another commission progressing at the same time to attain the high level of detailed development established by the office and demanded by the Client.

The new extension comprises a glass link to provide a distinctive transition between old and new, whilst emphasising the character of the listed building. With the natural topography of the site, the construction of a partially exposed lower-ground floor creates the impression of the lightweight structure floating against the static, Victorian mass of the Mechanics' Institute. The contemporary design clearly separates itself from the listed building; however, a carefully chosen palette of materials ensures a physical and emotional connection of the two structures. The materials include locally sourced stone cladding and natural slate roof with an agreeable pitch, all encasing an internally-exposed steel frame. The external facades of both the extension and the Mechanics' Institute are lit to enhance the mood and presence of the building, which can be observed with particular effect at night.



The Building

The Building

Type of library

District/area library


400 m2




Architectural Design Services

Building contractor


The Space

The Space

Features and services

Special services

Hosting of other agencies

External features

Shared building, Building shape

Internal features

Design features, Structural

Energy efficiency


Accessibility provision

Access between floors, Access to building, Access within building, Assistive technology, Furniture height, Parking

Interior designer

Architectural Design Services (Leeds city council)

Furniture suppliers

Arc Design (Leeds), Demco Interiors, Jowett and Sowery (Leeds)

Services and facilities suppliers


IT provision

Number of public computer terminals: 15

Seats/study places