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Sant Pau – Santa Creu Library, Barcelona, Spain

Photo: Jordi Casañas
Photo: Jordi Casañas

Name of the Library   Sant Pau – Santa Creu Library
Parent Organisation:   Biblioteques de Barcelona

Street Address:  Carme 47 – Hospital 56
Postal Address: Carme 47 – Hospital 56    08001 Barcelona
Telephone : +34 933020797
Web Address:
Library Email:
Type of Library: Medium size town library
Population served:
Project Type: Refurbishment
Size (square metres): 1.127 m2
Date of Completion:   49,225
Architect:   Is a XV Century Building. The refurbishment is from Arq Forum. SLP

Photo: Jordi Casañas
Photo: Jordi Casañas

The library Sant Pau- Santa Creu is part of Biblioteques de Barcelona (Barcelona Libraries), the entity that manages the network of 40 public libraries in the city.

The library building forms part of the former Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau site in the Raval neighbourhood in Barcelona. Though the Gothic building we see today was completed in various stages after 1401, its origins lie in a Tenth-century hospice and hospital for pilgrims. The site ceased to serve as a hospital in the early-twentieth century, when this function was transferred to the Hospital de Sant Pau.

Santa Creu children’s library and Sant Pau young people’s library were established separately in different sections of the building in 1940 and1941. In 1970, the Sant Pau library was transferred to its present premises, and five years later the Santa Creu library was also added. The facilities were reorganised and refurbished in 2010 and today form a single library with different sections to cater for all users.

Photo: Jordi Casañas
Photo: Jordi Casañas

The library collection encompasses more than 56,000 documents, on different supports and in different fields, which is increased each month by new acquisitions. A selection of newspapers and magazines is also available.

The library includes a section devoted to El Raval, with a collection of documents referring both to the neighbourhood itself and to Ciutat Vella district in general. The section also contains local periodicals that have been published over the years, some still in existence, as well as films linked to the neighbourhood. In this section, users can also visit small thematic exhibitions and consult the database.
The library has a special collection devoted to the Arab world. Also focuses on the following centres of interest:
• Learning basic Catalan and Spanish
• Vocational training
• Immigration and cultural diversity
• Oposicions (civil service examinations)
• Parents’ corner
• The Indian sub-continent

The Sant Pau-Santa Creu library organises cultural activities and programmes aimed at encouraging reading amongst different ages and interest groups: exhibitions, lectures, book clubs, storytelling, children’s workshops… The library also hosts, promotes or takes part in many initiatives that are generated in El Raval, forming networks with other organisations to develop projects. These activities are aimed at transmitting the pleasure of reading and encouraging users to discover new authors and learn more about current issues, and are always closely linked to the library collections.

The programme Molt per aprendre (“Lots to Learn”) includes two seasons: Creacions (workshops devoted to writing, oral and visual arts) and the Aula Digital (introductory activities to computers, photography, self-access language learning, freeware and creating blogs).



Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, United Kingdom

Interior view of the Millennium Library. Photo Jan Richards
Interior view of the Millennium Library. Photo Jan Richards

Name of the Library: Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, UK
Parent Organisation: Norfolk County Council, UK

Street Address: The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich NR2 1AW
Postal Address: The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich NR2 1AW
Telephone : +44 (0) 1603 774774
(incl Country code)
Web Address:
Library Email:

Type of Library Central/ Main Library , Regional Library
Population served: About 130,000 people live in the city of Norwich, but the library also serves as a hub for the county of Norfolk (800,000 people).
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres): 4,621
Date of Completion: 2001
Architect: Sir Michael Hopkins

The Forum, Norwich (from, licensed under Creative Commons)
The Forum, Norwich (from, licensed under Creative Commons)

This is the busiest library in the UK and has held that title for the last 7 years running.

It is housed in a building called the Forum, which includes Tourist Information Centre, heritage attraction, cafe, training centre, etc. The Forum is conceived as a courtyard surrounded by a three storey, horseshoe-shaped enclosure of load-bearing brickwork, which accommodates the various activities on a series of balconies.

The courtyard roof is supported by bow-string steel trusses forming leaf shaped panels, infilled with acoustically absorbent material or glazing. Light enters into the heart of the building, creating a dynamic public Atrium.

The key sustainable strategy is the use of the building mass as a ‘passive’ environmental modifier and the introduction of ‘active’ building engineering systems, only to assist the fabric to recycle ambient energy.

Its spectacular glazed end wall frames the Gothic church tower of St Peter Mancroft, welcoming the city in, and forming a major public space in the forecourt.

Click to access Architecture__Construction_of_The_Forum.pdf


Canada Water Library, London, United Kingdom

Name of the Library: Canada Water Library, UK
Parent Organisation: London Borough of Southwark Council, UK

Street Address: 21 Surrey Quays Rd, London SE16 7AR UK
Postal Address: 21 Surrey Quays Rd, London SE16 7AR UK
Telephone : +44 (0) 20 7525 2000
Web Address:
Library Email:
Type of Library: Central/ Main
Population served: About 250,000 people live in Southwark.
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres): 2,900
Date of Completion: 2011
Architect: CZWG (Piers Gough)

Plenty of information and pictures available here:


Public Library of Tonsberg and Notteroy, Norway

Photograph Cedric Archer
Photograph Cedric Archer

Name of the Library:Public Library of Tonsberg and Notteroy
Parent Organisation:Municipalities of Tonsberg and Notteroy

Street Address: Storgt. 16, 3126 Tonsberg, Norway
Postal Address: PB 2131, 3103 Tonsberg, Norway
Telephone :+47 33354900
Web Address:

Type of Library : Central/ Main Library, Medium size town library
Population served: 63,000
Project Type:  New Building
Size (square metres):5020
Date of Completion:1992
Architect:Lunde & Louseth

Interior view, Photo Knut Nordhagen
Interior view, Photo Knut Nordhagen

Prize winning architecture combining glass and steel, with a stunning roof, where steel creates the symbolic picture “under the tree of knowledge”.

The library building interconnects the past and the future being situated on the site of the old St Olaf’s monastery from 1180. The ruins of the monastery are now part of the library, hosting events of literature, music and debates.

The architecture has a sustainable design – it makes a very adequate frame for also the future library. Library services change and it fits well into the 1992 building.

The Library fulfils its role as a local meeting point, connecting people, and also supports the local affiliation of the inhabitants giving direct access to the medieval history of the city centre.

Library Interior Photo Knut Nordhagen
Library Interior Photo Knut Nordhagen

Awards, case studies, further information
The Norwegian Award for Steel Constructions 1993
The European Award for Steel Constructions 1993
The Scandinavian Roof Construction Award 1993
The Houen Foundation Diploma 2000



Customs House Library, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Exterior of Customs House
The Exterior of Customs House

Name of the Library: Customs House Library
Parent Organisation: City of Sydney

Street Address: 31 Alfred Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Postal Address: GPO BOX 1591 Sydney 2001
Telephone : +0292428555
Web :
Library Email:
Type of Library: Joint use
Population served:
Project Type : Conversion
Size             Library occupies three floors of Customs House
Date of Completion:  2005
Architects: Lacoste + Stevenson Architects (Coordinating Architect – PTW, Heritage Architect – Tanner Architects)

Customs House Library Reading Room
Customs House Library Reading Room

Customs House Library is located at Circular Quay on the doorstep of Sydney CBD and Sydney Harbour in one of Sydney’s landmark historical buildings. Spread over three floors the library features a number of flexible spaces, including lounge areas, a beautiful traditional quiet study space, exhibition spaces, computer facilities, Wifi, IT training facilities, and quality collections.

As part of the City of Sydney Library Network, Customs House Library regularly hosts a range of innovative and engaginig events, including the Late Night Library series, Classics at Customs and Lunches with Bite.

Customs House Library, interior Photograph K Joss
Customs House Library, interior
Photograph K Joss

Awards, case studies, further information

2006 Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) Awards
Category: Public Buildings – Interiors
Winner: Lacoste + Stevenson Architects

Australia’s Favourite Library, ALIA, 2014

Local Government Arts & Culture Awards 2014
Developing Arts and Culture: Libraries and Literature: Late Night Library, Council of the City of Sydney

“The Infinite Library”
Stead, Naomi. Monument No 76 2006/07 pp 64-68


Surry Hills Library, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Surry Hills Library and Community Centre Photo  John Gollings
Surry Hills Library and Community Centre
Photo John Gollings

Name of the Library: Surry Hills Library
Parent Organisation: City of Sydney Council

Street Address: 405 Crown Street Surry Hills 2010
Postal Address: Same as above
Telephone : 61 02 83746230
Web :
Type of Library : Multipurpose  building
Population served: City of Sydney (local government area) population 191,918, Surry Hills (village catchment) population 15,348
Project Type: Refurbishment
Size (square metres): 898m2
Date of Completion:  Opened 2009
Architect:  Richard Francis Jones from FJMT

Surry Hills Library John Gollings
Surry Hills Library
John Gollings

Key building features:
The new Surry Hills Library and Community Centre has been designed to achieve measurable standards of excellence in sustainable design and, ultimately, set new benchmarks in environmental performance for hybrid public buildings. Some examples are:
• Rainwater will be collected, treated and re-used for the flushing of toilets and watering the environmental atrium plants and Collins Street Reserve lawn.
• Achieving a high quality Indoor Environment is a key goal for the project and the building’s geo thermal cooling provides access to clean air with a low energy cost
• A photovoltaic array consisting of some 40 roof mounted solar panels
• High levels of natural day-lighting throughout the building and daylight controlled light fixtures
• Solar tracking louver façade to minimise direct light penetration to control glare and thermal gains
• Effective insulation of the building envelope including the Green Roof and ventilated facades, where natural grasses reduce energy loss through the roof and the façade cladding zone is ventilated to minimize thermal gains
• Movement controlled lighting which ensures lights turn off automatically when empty of people

Building materials have been specially selected for their durability so as to reduce maintenance and material replacement through the building’s life cycle. Waste management strategies and recycling have been adopted throughout construction and when the building is occupied there will be a centralised collection and sorting facility.
Sustainable material use includes:
– a post-tensioning structural system that reduces the quantity of concrete required for structural framing
– use of alternative materials to PVC for plumbing and electrical services
– Finishes that contain low levels of products which harm the environment such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
– Timber products sourced from sustainable forests

Surry Hills Library is part of the City of Sydney Library Network and regularly hosts a range of innovate and engaging events, such as the Late Night Library series this event offers Sydneysiders a range of exciting events on Thursday nights, from storytelling sessions and current affairs debates to live music performances and film screenings.

Awards, case studies, further information

  • 2014 Local Government Arts & Culture Awards
  • 2011 Best New Global Design award International Architecture Awards  Chicago
  • National Award for Sustainable Architecture and National Award for Public Architecture at the National Architecture Awards
  • Public Architecture Award, Milo Dunphy Award for Sustainable Architecture and John Verge Award for Interior Architecture at the NSW Architecture Awards
  • Environmental Excellence Award at the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s NSW Awards
  • The Green Globe Award for Local Government Sustainability at the NSW Department of Environment’s Awards
  • Excellence in Construction – Public Building Award at the Master Builders Association Awards
  • Award for Excellence in Sustainability at the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating Awards
  • Sustainability Award at the Building Product News Awards
  • Second place in the Emilio Ambasz Award for Green Architecture
  • Finalist in the National Interior Design Awards
  • Finalist in the United Nations World Environment Day Awards
  • Finalist in the Banksia Environment Awards
  • Highly Commended in the Asia Pacific Property Awards
  • Highly Commended in the Interior Design of Excellence Awards
  • Highly Commended in the Australian Timber Design Awards for a NSW Public/Commercial Building and Best Use of Timber Panels.



Tromsø City Library and Archive, Norway

Tromsø bibliotek 1

Name of the Library:Tromsø City Library and Archive
Parent Organisation: Tromsø City

Street Address: Grønnegt. 94, 9008 Tromsø NORWAY
Postal Address: Postboks 6900, 9299 Tromsø NORAY
Telephone : +47 777 90 900
Web Address:
Library Email:

Type of Library: Central Library
Population served: 75 000
Project Type : Refurbishment
Size (square metres): 3500 m2
Date of Completion: 2005
Architect: Kjell Beite

Tromsø 2

Tromsø City Library and Archive was opened in 2005. It is 3500 m2 and was drawn by the Norwegian architect Kjell Beite . However the roof was the remains of a cinema built in the 1960.

The library is a part of a complex containing the Town Hall and a cinema. The library collection is housed on four floors and a top gallery and shares the building with the City Archives.


Because of its convenient situation and spectacular architecture, the library has become a natural meeting place for the local citizens, and a “must see” experience for tourists. The vision of the library is to be a model library in the region of northern Norway. In 2006 the library was declared the Best Service Enterprise in Tromsø, an award given on behalf of the citizens of Tromsø. In 2008 the library was nominated as one of three for the award of “Library of the Year” in Norway, while in 2009 a general poll voted the Tromsø Library the best public library of the year.








Williamstown Library, Victoria, Australia

The external of the Williamstown Library. Photo: Alan Baxter
The external of the Williamstown Library. Photo: Alan Baxter

Name of the Library:  Williamstown Library
Parent Organisation:  Hobsons Bay Libraries

Street Address: 104 Ferguson Street, Williamstown, Victoria 3016
Postal Address: as above
Telephone : +61 1300 462 542
Web Address Email

Type of Library: District Library
Population served: Primary catchment of 13,000 , secondary catchment of approximately 22,000
Project Type: New Building in a heritage precinct
Size (square metres): 1399m2
Date of Completion: September 2012
Architect: Sally Draper with Mitsouri Architects


Williamstown Library Children’s Area
Williamstown Library Children’s Area Photo: Trevor Mein

Williamstown, situated on a peninsula eight kilometres south-west of Melbourne, is the oldest continuous settlement on the shores of Port Phillip.

The design of the Williamstown Library is based on an understanding of Williamstown as a unique place within Melbourne, characterised by a strong sense of identity and community.
It is contemplated not as a standalone building but as an integral part of its urban context. The site spans two distinct precincts: the historic Town Hall precinct to the west, and the retail precinct to the east. The design approach allows the library to act as a “bridge” between these two different urban environments.

Williamstown’s maritime heritage is reflected in the building’s architectural features with the use of ply in the timber bridge as well as the curved form with wooden beams alluding to Williamstown’s history in boat building. The extensive use of wood and the translucent polycarbonate create a calm and airy feel to the library space. Fifty or so browsers, readers, researchers, students or PC users seem to have little impact on the overall sense of calm.

The architects saw the library as two interlinked components. A softly curved translucent structure houses a double height reading room, whilst the ancillary spaces are within a rectilinear, bluestone wall. The bluestone is punctured by a series of deeply set openings acting as a threshold or filter between the cultural realm of the Town Hall precinct and the commercial areas to the east. A series of flexible community gathering spaces are created  between the Town Hall and the library . A sheltered sun lit courtyard to the north opens off the UCAN library café and to the south generous timber step seats spill out onto the Town Hall forecourt providing an engaging and comfortable meeting place.

The Williamstown Library incorporates strong environmentally sustainable design (ESD) goals with solutions integrated into the building fabric. This was achieved through innovative design of the building envelope, thoughtful configuration and zoning of spaces, and the integration of a multi-stage hybrid HVAC system designed to balance occupant comfort with energy efficiency.

The HVAC system incorporated into this building is designed to work seamlessly with the spaces and architecture of the building to minimise energy consumption throughout the year. A sub-floor labyrinth covers the entire footprint of the building.  This labyrinth takes in outdoor air below deck level and allows it to filter into the occupied spaces providing passive cooling for much of the year. High level extract vents in the main reading room combined with automated windows in the building spine serve to draw air from the plenum through the occupied spaces thereby providing natural cooling and ventilation to all areas within the building.  As the temperature rises, dampers in the sub-floor plenum close and a VRV system utilises the sub-floor space for distribution of conditioned air into the building. During cooler months when natural ventilation is not possible, heating is achieved through the use of hydronic in slab heating in the main reading room and supplementary air based heating in the ancillary spaces. The energy efficient hydronic system warms the indoor air for the most part and is boosted when required by the VRV system.

Energy efficient lighting, daylight and motion sensors have been incorporated into spaces and an automated night purge system allows for high level extract. A 40,000 litre water tank is located below the main deck and harvests water from the library and part of the town hall roof for re-use in the building. The building features recycled timber and steel composite structural columns, natural Victorian bluestone and low VOC materials and finishes throughout.
The Williamstown Library combines innovative, elegant design with smart sustainable design solutions to create a library that will serve the community now and into the future.

View from the first floor.  Photo: Trevor Mein
View from the first floor. Photo: Trevor Mein

This modern, two storey library has brought new life to Williamstown’s historic arts and civic precinct with the library collection interspersed with attractive reading spaces and  state of the art technology incorporated throughout. There are self serve RFID issue and return  terminals, automated book returns, iPads for casual browsing, PCs and wireless internet and a gaming zone.  The bookshop inspired layout invites the reader to browse the collections, then to sit to read and linger in the nearby chairs.

Williamstown Library is a vibrant meeting place for the local community where visits regularly outstrip loans. The space is flexible to meet the needs of an array of different types of programming. The library runs the usual programs for children such as Rhymetime and Storytime in the colourful children’s area. However, the flexibility of the layout is showcased when larger author events are achieved by wheeling the collection into storage to allow half of the floor space to be set with 150-200 seats. Recent author events included Matthew Reilly and local favourite Andy Griffiths.  While relaxing on the outdoor deck you can plug into recharge your favourite device or enjoy acoustic sets from local musicians as part of the Music on the Deck program. Local community group, Transitions, are supported to meet monthly on the deck to exchange garden produce at ‘fruit and vegetable swaps’ and regular book sales run by the Friends of the Library group provide funds for the library’s programs and services. The deck creates a vibrant and active urban space and the “bridge” between the two buildings. Regular cultural events on the Town Hall calendar such as the Williamstown Literary Festival, the Rotary Art Show, Mobil Night at the Opera and the Antique and Vintage Fashion show spill out from the ballroom to enjoy coffee and drinks at interval.

The first floor Gallery hosts art exhibits from local art clubs, schools and kindergartens, and has hosted several national touring exhibitions, bringing high calibre exhibits to the community’s backyard.  When not in use for exhibitions, the gallery is well used by students at the shared study tables. Views of Melbourne’s city skyline can also be enjoyed from the Gallery.

For those wishing a quieter library experience, the library offers an acoustically treated study room, with peaceful views to the Town Hall and golden elm.

The library experience is enhanced by the aroma of freshly baked muffins and espresso. Library members can enjoy a coffee or bite to eat at the UCAN Cafe.  UCAN Cafe is a social enterprise supported as part of an award winning partnership with Hobsons Bay City council, paying award wage employment and training for young people with disability. This innovative enterprise has provided local youth with over 20,000 hours of employment.

The history of Hobsons Bay is showcased in the dedicated Heritage Room. The room is a haven for family history buffs, curious visitors, and serious researchers and boasts an impressive collection of local history primary and secondary source materials.

Best practice accessibility features include three fully accessible bathrooms, including accessible shower facilities and a hydraulic change table.  The integrated ramp entrances and the lift provided in the linkway provides accessible entry to the Town Hall for the first time in almost 100 years.
Awards, case studies, further information
New Williamstown Library for people as well as books. The Age, April 30th 2014 :

Williamstown: New Library, Old Spirit:

Australian Institute of Architects: 2014 Victorian Architecture Awards – Urban Design (Commendation)


Exeter Library, Exeter, United Kingdom

Name of the Library: Exeter Library, UK
Parent Organisation: Devon County Council, UK

Street Address: Castle Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3PQ
Postal Address: Castle Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3PQ
Telephone : +44 (0) 1392 384218
Web Address:

Type of Library : Central/ Main Library
Population served:
Project Type: New Building  Refurbishment
Size (square metres): not known
Date of Completion: 2014
Architect: HMY Radford

Tapiola Library, Espoo, Finland

Learning to Code at Tapiola Library
Learning to Code at Tapiola Library

Name of the Library Tapiola Library
Parent Organisation: Espoo City Library

Street Address:Kaupinkalliontie 10
Postal Address: Tapiola Library, P.O. Box 3615, 02070 City of Espoo, Finland
Telephone : +35850 4289392
(incl Country code)
Web Address
Library Email

Type of Library : District Library
Population served: 40 000
Project Type: Conversion
Size (square metres):2000
Date of Completion: 1989
Architect: Arto Sipinen

High School students interview Minister of Transport and Local Government at Tapiola Library
High School students interview Minister of Transport and Local Government at Tapiola Library

 1. We set out to change our library culture to a more lively ‘makers’-library with a hacker mentality. We are involved in promoting sustainable development by inspiring people to do things yourself, recycle and to learn new things. This is achieved by deconstructing the traditional library space into a ‘creative disorder’-space for customers and employees. We are in the process of releasing the library space for the use of the community. The library staff holds their meetings in customer premises. Some of the staff and the director of the library work without a service desk. This way we are more easily encountered by customers. By reducing our traditional collection we free up space for customers to act and be. Cultural events are being held for both adults and children (literature, politics, movies, singing performances, ballet, bobbing lace.) Customers are served porridge on Thursday mornings.

2. The lending of music records has been declining for several years. We moved the music related material to the middle of the library thus freeing up roughly 300 square meters of space for our 3D-printers, electronic drums, embroidery, vinyl-cutter, shirt press, book repair station, AV-digitalization equipment, a music workshop, a drone camera copter etc. In this makerspace customers manufacture, learn and work. Anyone who enters the space is welcome to join in any aforementioned activity. A staff member is always present to assist and uphold a pleasant atmosphere. The library offers a continuous stream of programming courses for all ages and workshops for shirt-making, crocheting and music.

Learning by doing at Tapiola Library
Learning by doing at Tapiola Library

3. The children’s section is being transformed into one of a more open and secure nature. All children’s non-fiction literature has been merged with adult literature of the same type. Space is being freed to accommodate more active ways of interaction. READs (Reading education assistance dogs) are available for reservation once a week per customer. Short films are made and tabletop/internet games played.