Werneth School in Stockport has been in the fortunate position of being completely relocated into a new purpose-built home on the same site. As part of this, Opening the Book was invited by the Deputy Head, Alyson Littlewood, and School Librarian, Nikki Heath, to put forward a design for the new library.
Transforming the old chapel in a 19th century school into a contemporary, practical library was an exciting challenge for our design team this summer. The brief was to create a highly flexible layout which would accommodate all the usual activities required of the hard-working hub of the school, plus the ability to easily transform the space for large group events.
A dramatic building, a new landscaped development and a council ambitious to change its relationship with its customers – what an opportunity! Opening the Book worked with libraries, Customer Services, architects and contractors to create a completely new kind of experience for Telford residents, whether they come for the library’s new offers or to claim benefits. A hard-working library with pressures on space was transformed through a major rethink.
Capacities were increased through better space planning across several floors but the library feels more open and light because of the skilful layout in relation to the architecture. Opening the Book worked closely with senior managers to plan new approaches to staffing the space.
A much-loved but derelict cinema was reclaimed and extended as the Library and Customer Services Centre. Opening the Book brought contemporary style mixed with a celebration of cinematic heritage to deliver immediate appeal in the high street location.
Upstairs we zoned the space for noisy and quiet activities and designed in a film-projection space for an audience of up to 60. This market town had campaigned for a new library for 20 years so expectations were high.
Residents, councillors and staff all supported our proposal to move to a discovery layout and retail-style presentation in the new library. The results in terms of increased membership, visits and loans have been outstanding.