Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter has revealed their finalist proposal for the recent RIBA Competition to design a new Southmere Village Library and civic space for the southeast London suburb of Thamesmead, a competition won by Bisset Adams.
Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter’s proposal embraces the waterfront nature of the site by introducing a stepped, sawtoothed building that interacts with the water in a way similar to the old brick factories of East London and the palaces of the upper Thames. Reflections from the water could pass through the high-transparency glass walls of the library, connecting visitors with the Southmere Lake even when indoors
“When considering the context of the proposed new library, one becomes fascinated by the great impact this place has had on the imagination of Londoners, and its influence in England’s greatest contribution to human culture – its literature,” explains Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter. “This hinterland, where South East London meets the marshes of Kent, and the River Thames meets the open seas under a vale of mist, has inspired some of the nation’s greatest artworks – the Thames Estuary is both a gateway to the world as captured by Turner and Canaletto, and a place of eerie mystery for HG Wells and famously where Charles Dickens’ Magwitch is imagined coming ashore.”
Inside, bookshelves would stretch from the ground floor to the open second level, which would also provide access to a terrace overlooking the lake.
“The opportunity to create a new library in this setting that is already blessed with such a rich literary heritage is a great one,” add the architects. “Indeed, the challenge is to create a civic asset that can also capture something of this character, and stimulate the imagination of a new generation of Thamesmead residents.”