Skip to main content
For enquiries please call 01977 602188

Library Design Case Study: Gateshead Archive

Opening the Book refurbished Gateshead Central Lending Library, including children’s and young adult areas, in 2009 so we were delighted to return to complete the work with a transformation of the computer and reference areas into the new Gateshead Archive.

It was quite a challenge to house the Archive’s fascinating collection, consisting of thousands of books, newspapers, photos and maps, as well as digital resources, microfilm readers, FindMyPast PCs, card catalogues and listening posts for oral history recordings. Space was also need for workshops and volunteers.  The Archive incorporates the main public access computers so it was important to provide plenty of desk space for drop-in users, plus desk-space and power for BYOD.

The solution was to design customised individual study desks with glazed cabinets above for the runs of bound volumes. Each desk has an individual lamp and power source. The finishing touch was decorating the rear panels of the desks with graphics of engravings from the Archive’s Bewick Collection. Our unique museum boxes are used on the standard bookcases to display interesting items such as the Gateshead Petition for the Abolition of Slavery.  Lockable glazed cabinets house the more delicate items while keeping them open to view. 

Our design worked to integrate the physical and digital opportunities to explore history. For example, the touch screen to showcase digital maps is placed next to the large map cabinets which enable customers to spread out a historic map while enlarging the detail on the adjacent smart screen. The surfaces of the map cabinets are covered with adhesive vinyl prints of the two most frequently used maps in the collection.  High quality scans of other maps and images held by the Archive provided material for the graphics used around the space.  This included full-wall reproductions of very early photographs and maps of Gateshead.

The new space allocated was large but had no windows and had to transition smoothly from Gateshead’s library shop which is one of the most successful in the UK.  We worked hard to redesign the layout in this busy transit area which is also the main through route to the café, the lending library and the public toilets as well as Gateshead Archive. All surfaces were kept light and mid-brown wood-effect flooring was used throughout so that there is no obvious border between the two spaces, making both areas feel airy and bright.

More Case Studies

Llanrwst Library
Llanrwst Library Design Case Study

In 2020 Conwy CBC had an opportunity to provide a new community hub for rural Conwy when the building which had been the Glasdir Business…

View more
Gateshead Central Library - MakerPlace
Gateshead Central Library MakerPlace

Makerspaces need a special ambience, not to mention sufficient storage space and work surfaces for all the equipment, collaborative activities and presentations. Opening the Book…

View more
Leeds City Council Story Buses
Leeds City Council Story Buses

It was an exciting prospect for us to be invited to work with Leeds City Council to design their new mobile children’s service vehicles. This…

View more
Lichfield Library
Lichfield Library at St Marys Centre

Opening the Book first visited St Mary’s Church, Lichfield, in 2016 to consider the feasibility of the library being part of a larger refurbishment project.…

View more
Werneth High School Library
Werneth High School

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…

View more
Tables and shelving
Kingham Hill School

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…

View more
Attractive shelving
Southwater One Library

A dramatic building, a new landscaped development and a council ambitious to change its relationship with its customers – what an opportunity! Opening the Book…

View more
Looking down on Redbridge Library
Redbridge Central Library

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…

View more
Seating area, Risca Palace Library
Risca Palace Library

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…

View more
Thame Library bookshelves and reading table
Thame Library

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…

View more
Nottingham Trent University IT
Nottingham Trent University

The 4th floor of Boots has always been the most heavily used computer space in the university – and it showed. Opening the Book used…

View more