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Derelict Liverpool library remodelled for childcare charity

Words:
Michèle Woodger

OMI Architects has refurbished a dilapidated grade II listed library, remodelling it as a multipurpose scheme for a childcare charity

Large double-height spaces have been repurposed into spacious child-friendly rooms with visual interest.
Large double-height spaces have been repurposed into spacious child-friendly rooms with visual interest. Credit: Paul Karalius
Building The Old Library
Location Green Lane, Liverpool
Architect OMI Architects
Building type childcare and community
 
Grade II Listed Andrew Carnegie Library, in Tuebrook, Liverpool, was in a state of dilapidation, but OMI has now extensively refurbished and remodelled it into a multipurpose scheme for childcare charity Lister Steps.
 
As well as accommodating the client and the children who use its services, the building now also houses community spaces, a café, and hot-desking office spaces. The project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Liverpool City Council, was expensive; it required considerable work to return such a derelict structure back to a usable condition.
 
While some areas were restored, such as the reading room which is now the main communal space, others were boldly reconfigured. However, throughout, existing volumes and spatial characteristics were respected. New openings in the facade were designed to improve visibility between inside and out. These look out on to newly landscaped gardens. Within the building, child-size internal windows peek into double-height voids, creating playful visual interest for the children.
 
‘It is nice, because it’s got that interaction between floors; there is legibility to it,’ said judge Denise Bennetts. 
 

Local residents are thrilled that this much-loved building has been returned to public use

  • Existing volumes and spatial characteristics were respected throughout the remodelling.
    Existing volumes and spatial characteristics were respected throughout the remodelling. Credit: OMI Architects
  • Visibility between inside and out has been greatly improved, linking the interior to newly landscaped gardens.
    Visibility between inside and out has been greatly improved, linking the interior to newly landscaped gardens. Credit: Paul Karalius
  • Old Library, Liverpool Green Lane by Liverpool OMI Architects.
    Old Library, Liverpool Green Lane by Liverpool OMI Architects. Credit: Paul Karalius
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Community and stakeholder interaction were pivotal from the start. The process included short courses in historic craft skills and building conservation as part of an outreach and education scheme. ‘The Old Library is once again a beautiful heritage asset in the heart of the community,’ said Gaynor Williams of Lister Steps. ‘Local residents are thrilled that this much-loved building has been returned to public use.’

‘I think this is a very joyful scheme,’ said judge Robyn Poulson. ‘I think it’s lovely, reinventing a crumbling listed building.’ 

Bennetts agreed: ‘The brio with which it has been done has to be applauded and it has been successful.’

For more on MacEwen shortlisted projects and architecture for the common good see ribaj.com/MacEwen-Award

 

Credits

In numbers
Cost £3.9 million
Area 985m2
Cost per m2 £3,959 indicative
 
Historic fabric surveyor Arcadis
Landscape architect Xanthe Quayle Landscape Architects
Main contractor HH Smith & Sons
Quantity surveyor Simon Fenton Partnership
Services engineer Viridian Consulting
Structural engineer DP Squared
Project manager Artis Consulting

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