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Now we are ten

Published Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Peckham Library

Children's library at Blue Anchor Library

Two iconic buildings in Southwark celebrate a decade of success this week.

The Tate Modern's huge success as a free contemporary art gallery is rarely missed, but the borough's social and learning hub - Peckham Library, designed by Alsop and Stormer architects, is equally successful in the hearts of Southwark residents.

This week, it reaches its tenth birthday since it was officially opened on 15 May 2000, and is celebrating in style. Here's what's happening

From 1pm on Saturday 15 May, the following will take place

In Peckham square

Live music, face painting and children's crafts

Across the square

Peckham Pulse will be staging a rowing competition with prizes, using static rowing machines and there will be taster sessions of some unusual sports such as boccia and new age Kurling

Inside the library

  • There will be a chance to win prizes just by borrowing more than ten items from the library
  • The British Film Institute will be doing an animation workshop
  • From 6pm to 8pm there will be entertainment by performance poet Jean Binta Breeze
  • There will also be a chance to go behind the scenes of the library with a tour of the building and a display of photographs of the library site before and during the buildings construction.

Adrian Whittle, head of culture libraries, learning and leisure at Southwark Council, said "Peckham Library is a real favourite with residents of all ages, from Dads' groups and comic workshops, to a superb selection of African literature; it challenges perceptions of what a library is.

"Both in its architectural structure and its programme of activities it shows that a library isn't just a static space. People can use their library as a community hub at the same time as a space for quiet study, borrowing a great read or getting hold of a DVD to see for free."

Ten other things you didn't know about Peckham Library

  • The design is based on a large inverted upper case L
  • The library building has won many awards including the Riba Stirling Prize, Civic Trust Award and the Copper Cladding Award
  • Peckham Library has had visitors from all over the world, most recently a group from a South Korean 24 hr news channel
  • The library contains three 'pods', which are "suspended" above the main library space. They are used as additional study space, hired out to local community groups and for library events
  • The library has over 400,000 visitors a year
  • Singer songwriter Newton Faulkner shot his latest video at Peckham Library
  • On the third Thursday of every month it hosts a Manga club for teenagers interested in the popular graphic novel series
  • Over ten different local schools and nurseries visit the library every week
  • Many famous authors have visited the library, including Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen and Andrea Levy
  • Last year our wifi service was used for a total of 31,383 hours, three minutes and seven seconds

Peckham Library, a description

It won the Stirling Prize in 2000, perhaps the single most prestigious award the British architectural establishment can offer a single building. Situated in its own plaza the building is essentially an upturned L shape resting on seven slender columns - this creates a covered area that extends the plaza below the building and announces the entrance to the library.

The north face of the building is completely glazed with a grid of clear and vividly coloured glass, this provides an excellent combination of natural light and coloured tinted light within the library spaces.  Architect: Will Alsop

Original opening

The Library opened to the public on 8 March, 2000, with an official opening by the Rt Hon Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport on 15 May, 2000.

The building attracted 500,000 visitors in its first year of opening in the wake of its receipt of the prize.

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