Paisley Learning and Cultural Hub
Collective Architecture was appointed in 2018 to deliver a new Central Library for Paisley at 22 High Street to accommodate the library service currently housed within the existing Museum building. The existing library building, once vacated in 2018, will form part of a larger £42m project to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor destination. Both of these are key projects in the Council’s wider investment in cultural infrastructure.
This commission builds on an earlier feasibilty study in 2016 by Collective Architecture, which considered 4 potential sites for the relocation of Paisley Library and recommend relocation to 22 High Street.
22 High Street was part of Paisley’s medieval centre, previously the site of the Semple Family’s town house which dates from the 17th century. The current building was constructed in 1876 and substantially modified in the1950s. The ground and first floors have been replaced with a post and beam steel structure on an approximately 5.5m grid. The first and second floors retain a number of load bearing stud walls which bear on the new steel structure.
The new location offers a number of challenges and opportunities. The site is located close to a number of other important civic buildings with which connections can be made and it enjoys excellent public transport links. The building presents some significant refurbishment challenges including removing extensive amounts of asbestos, upgrading the structure to take library loadings and achieving building control compliance with regards to fire escape. To ensure differentiation from the adjacent commercial units, the architecture of the proposals has to be distinct and iconic. This has resulted in a dynamic proposals for sculptural fins that sit in front of the curtain wall glazing system and have a folded form to echo the bending of a piece of paper to make an origami form or mark the place in a book.
The concept for the building layout focusses on how to create a welcoming, varied and light internal environment within the constraints of the existing footprint. The result is based on the idea of creating an series of linked urban rooms. An 'urban foyer' accessed off the High Street leads to 'secret rooms' for children to play and explore within the childrens' library. A 'living room' on the 1st floor houses the main library collection and leads to 'events rooms' for meetings and performances. The 2nd floor 'reading room' provides a quiet environement and leads to the 'study room' gallery and an 'outdoor room' providing an external, outdoor, elevated courtyard. To ensure a consistent design approach and exceptional quality throughout the building, Collective Architecture's commission has been extended to include the design of bespoke fixed furniture and the specification of loose furniture.
In additional to the extensive lending book stock, the building will provide excellent IT facilities including wifi and charging points to all areas, a dedicated IT room and numerous workbenches, tables, desks and nooks distributed throughout providing a range of spaces to access the PCs provided or set up personal laptops.
To add an extra layer of visual interest, Collective are collaborating with artist Claire Barclay to design the childrens' library play structures, create feature wall paintings and design bespoke glazing manifestation.