Glasgow Women’s Library Collective Architecture won a limited...

Posted on December 22, 2015


Glasgow Women’s Library

Collective Architecture won a limited competition in June 2012 to carry out an internal fit out, external improvements and new extension to the ‘Category B’ listed library in Bridgeton, Glasgow for client Glasgow Women’s Library. The library is one of seven “Carnegie” libraries donated to the city and was built in 1903. It is a local landmark for the area: grand in appearance with feature bays, intricate ornamentation and beautifully carved statues.

Collective Architecture have worked closely with the Glasgow Women’s Library from the very early stages, to develop a phased strategy to reform the internal spaces of the existing library. The design strategy involved an informal reading area and open plan mezzanine area, with lift access, within the former Main Reading Room. The Reading Room rests above a new ground floor cafe/kitchen and informal display/exhibition space. A new strong room archive has been designed over two levels at the rear of the gallery, housing the permanent collection and special pieces of display which required to be climatically controlled to ensure their survival.

A new feature artwork liftshaft, fully clad with CNC cut feature cladding, has been designed to provide accessibility to the First Floor Level. The lift shaft on the gable fronting James Street, whilst providing a contrasting beacon against the existing Grade B Listed sandstone facade, provides a new accessible entrance to that of the existing first floor and new gallery space which in turn makes the building more accessible to the public and wider user groups.

Throughout the design process, key stakeholder and client/community engagement workshops were crucial to the successful delivery of the project. The key challenge at the very early stages was to establish the client brief and how the existing library could be flexible enough to cater for an organisation with a national reputation, and one which would be hosting major events, screenings, talks, exhibitions and offering support services for people across Glasgow.

Glasgow Women’s Library provides a major resource for the City of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond. Their reputation extends nationally with a growing membership and volunteer team. Their archive collection has steadily expanded with items on display for public view and has gained growing importance through its accredited museum status.