Hornsey Library, Haringey

  • Public And Arts
  • London Borough of Haringey

Built to replace a smaller 19th Century library, Hornsey Library was completed in April 1965, to the delight of local users. The project appealed to librarians and architects alike, simply because of the “close co-operation at all stages between a librarian who believes that his job is to get books to readers, and an architect who can appreciate the complexities of that simple sounding demand” (Library Association Record, April 1965).

Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture has continued this collaborative tradition, working together with the librarians and project team to refresh the building, providing the contemporary facilities expected of a modern-day library, while reinforcing the original sense of energy to preserve it for generations to come.

Cllr Mark Blake, Haringey Council Cabinet Member for Communities said: “Hornsey Library has been transformed, with excellent work that enhances the fabric of this much loved Grade II listed building, while respecting the architectural character and history of the original library. Haringey Library users will benefit for years to come.”

As part of the restoration, obstacles for access have been removed and additional space has been allocated to expanding services. Care has been taken to preserve the historic fabric and proportions, particularly the feeling of openness in the double height main library. This is accentuated by a new suspended globe lighting installation, taking cues from historic fittings.

Sensitive renovation of existing listed features such as the bookstacks, study desks and tea bar are complemented by new furniture and equipment, enabling a modern library service with roaming staff, wireless devices and touchdown points. The new intuitive layout provides distinct areas for public computing, media labs, quiet reading, and studying.

The building fabric has been retained, restored and reused as much as possible, including original furniture and shelving, minimising the environmental impact of new materials. High performance curtain walling replacement and roof insulation lead this fabric first approach, with natural ventilation retained throughout. Inefficient building services have been replaced with a low NOx boiler and heating system, 29kWp rooftop PV array and LED lighting. Annual predicted CO emissions related to regulated energy consumption are 35.9kgCO2/m2 (116tCO2), a 49% improvement on the existing building.

AJ Retrofit Awards 2021 Shortlisted: Cultural and Religious Buildings under £5 million