Opening the Book Ltd
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Southwater One Library, Telford

Southwater One, a new joint services hub in Telford, opened yesterday to a fantastic response from customers and staff alike.

Opening the Book role

Opening the Book was first appointed by Mace to work with the architects, structural engineers, project managers, landscape architects, mechanical and electrical designers at Stages A-E of the planned new building. 12 months' detailed work, through many different versions, resulted in an interior design and a full specification for all furniture and fittings agreed with the client. It was hugely valuable to be in at the early stages of discussion so we could match the interior design to the aspirations of both the council and the dramatic building design. We also influenced some key aspects - for example ensuring a step-free route for buggies into the first floor library from the park.

Six months later the building was going up fast and we were invited to tender for the supply and installation. We were appointed in September 2013 as sub-contractors to Morgan Sindall and we installed all the furniture and signage in May and June of this year. 3 years after our first involvement, the building opened on July 14 and it's fantastic!

Ground floor shared area

The entrance space was probably the most tricky to resolve and has worked superbly. The room sets with rugs and sofas create little oases to relax in, the Books to Go displays tempt quick visitors and the two First Point pods offer everything from bus passes to theatre tickets.

The screens to Costa Coffee are closed on most of our pics but in normal hours the library/First Point space and the Costa space merge into one another. Costa staff are encouraging customers to take coffees up to the other floors in the library too.

Library Floor

A mix of print and digital resources - fantastic book displays, computers and tablets, state of the art digi-tables, lots of power to plug in your own devices

Flexible event spaces - sofas for reading groups, wall projections for movies and presentations, space for workshops and a wonderful storytime space. And the library has already programmed a poet and haka dancing on the outside terrace.

Areas for different kinds of use - chatting, reflecting, reading

Areas for different audiences - under 5s, 5-11s, teenagers, adults, seniors, families , no hard boundaries, each area flows into the next

First Point Floor

Is this the most stylish and friendly council customer service ever? Gone are the enclosed booths, the rows of check-in desks , the sense of being corralled and controlled. Instead there is a great airy space with views in all directions. It's easy to see where to go with the clear colour coding.

Instead of enclosing people in, angles in the space are cleverly used to give more privacy. Lovely sofas are positioned to make it pleasant while you wait your turn. Slatted screens give a more open feel to the outside of the advice pods and matching acoustic screens give more privacy between adjacent desks. You can wander through the space with a coffee while you wait, glance up at the screens to see when your turn approaches or listen out for the audio announcements which call you forward.

This feels like home - I could live here.

Elsewhere on the web:

Library Design Gallery
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