Dutch architect Mecanoo plans to make Birmingham’s £193m central library into an arts complex by integrating it with the neighbouring Repertory Theatre.
Mecanoo, which has not completed any buildings in the UK, was this week appointed to design the library, in a surprise selection. It was unanimously chosen by Birmingham council’s interview panel out of a shortlist of seven that included Foster + Partners, Hopkins Architects and Wilkinson Eyre.
Council leader Mike Whitby said integrating the library with the theatre would create a unique “combined cultural centre”.
The theatre’s 1990 extension would be demolished to create a shared foyer, cafe–restaurant and a 350-seat auditorium.
Whitby added that the council had full funding for the library, which, at 31,000m2 will be 10% larger than any other non-national British library.
Francine Houben, Mecanoo’s founding partner, suggested that the library would also be integrated with Centenary Square in front of it.
Mecanoo has completed several hybrids between buildings and landscapes, including the research library of Delft Technical University, which resembles a grassy hillock.