I love the new Library of Birmingham, which has opened this week. I’ve watched it grow for some time now, impressed by the fact that it was built on such a small amount of land, basically a small car park we used to use when we went to concerts at the ICC nearby, but it looks so comfortable and grand, not squashed in at all. And I like the exterior enormously, I have no time for those people who call it an over decorated cake!
We went to the opening, with speeches given by Malala Yousafzai, the school girl who was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after being shot in Pakistan by the Taliban, the architect Francine Houbin and Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, amongst others. Then, many of us had our first look at the interior, and quite frankly, it’s amazing.
A new library opening is a mark of civilisation in these less than civilised times, and as for the cost, well, it’s a wonderful space freely available for all, so what can be better value; just use it, to realise its worth. I grew up in Birmingham; it was a dreary place for many years, but the regeneration of many areas, especially the city centre, have made it into an astonishingly interesting city, with great architecture, spaces, and sculpture. Although why that dreadful giant tv screen was erected in beautiful Victoria Square, obscuring one of Dhruva Mistry’s winged Guardians, and quite honestly just dragging the whole place down I’ll never know. So that’s why I’m so pleased the new library is so well done, and let’s keep it that way.
So, here are a few images.
This is the opening fanfare, ‘Together We Breathe, played by many local brass players situated around the building, a half an hour long cascade of sound devised by sound artists Super Critical Mass. It was sombre and rather magnificent.