Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

19 July 2011

Postindustrial Megaproject: a New Library for Birmingham

The site I chose to study is located in Birmingham, England; a place that was once one of the wealthiest industrial cities in the UK. Now, the city has relabeled itself as a culture center and as on of the most fashionable cities in the UK. It should also advertise itself as a city most likely to get lost in because I got lost countless times trying to follow directions given to me by the hostel. Perhaps it was the hostels fault that I kept getting lost. Luckily I happened upon my site and asked a local to make sure I was in the right place. This is what I saw when I accidentally found it. The construction is really what gave it away.
“Rewriting the Book, the Library of Birmingham” was launched as a campaign in 2010 by the Birmingham City Council. This “rewriting” process is their way of documenting the story of the megaproject. How are they “rewriting the book?” The Birmingham City Council has worked to get this to happen by inviting people to be a “Face of the Library of Birmingham”. They will choose 26 people to be “faces” of the library. Since the project started, only about 13 people have been chosen out of the countless applicants who have had life changing experiences because of libraries.

The megaproject is due to be complete in 2013 and when I visited, construction was well underway. During my visit I noticed that surrounding the construction site was a wall that had a billboard like display of the different elements you can find on the website. On this wall some of the faces are shown and there is a little window in the wall that looks in on the construction and describes what is going on. 
They keep the website up to date with information on construction, developments, current and past. While I was in Birmingham, I asked some of the locals who worked at my hostel what they thought about the new library. The major response was to the outdoor theater pit that they’re building that mirrors the hollow circle shape of the inside of the building. The people I talked to thought the open theater pit would never work because of the weather that the UK is known for.I think they also thought the circular opening inside the building was open air also but I found out that it is not.
The positive response to the library is demonstrated through the “faces” campaign because countless people have applied to be a face of the new library and tell their story. The people who have applied are typically locals, which is why the campaign is geared towards the local community. Though there is an undertone of openness and welcome to anyone who is curious about the library. This openness is emphasized in the overall design and marketing of the building. The location of the new library is ideal for this type of advertising because it is situated near the city center. It can easily be seen if you are walking on the main road and it is near other popular places that large amounts of people can be found at. It’s not just a library to check books out from but a place to meet people, to see events and experience something new. 

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