title Madin library emirates

Madin library emirates

This month, in Open skies, Emirates’ in-flight magazine, Christopher Beanland writes about seven concrete buildings in the UK, “once regarded as ugly, now loved by the public and the architectural fraternity alike”. He writes:

If you want to know what the folk of the 1960s thought the future would look like – take a look at Birmingham Central Library. It is exciting, confusing and brooding. Just like the city it sits in.

Its upturned ziggurat shape evokes Aztec pyramids and Japanese temples.

The fly in the ointment is that Birmingham has just opened a new library, and this one lies empty. The council wants to knock it down, but the city’s residents are rallying around the campaign to save it and turn it into something else.

“I am picking up a growing sense of loss for its life as a library and increasing support for the building’s retention,” says campaigner Alan Clawley, who has also written a book about the buildings architect, John Madin – a local who created many Midlands landmarks.

“If nothing else, the Council could hire it out on a short-term basis between now and the end of 2015, when they plan to start knocking it down.”

Birmingham was obsessed with knocking things down in the 20th Century, and the decision to demolish the library was taken back in 1999. Attitudes have changed since then, though, and Clawley and his campaign group now argue that the building could be turned into “a hotel, art gallery, climbing wall, museum of music or incubator for small companies”.

The writer would like to see a dual use of the building combining an engineering college for students (11-18 years) with a showcase for the region’s current engineering achievements.