Riba Stirling Prize 2014: Library of Birmingham

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The UK's most prestigious prize for new buildings, the Riba Stirling Prize, will be awarded on 16 October. BBC News Online, in partnership with Riba, is taking a look at each of the contenders for the prize. The Library of Birmingham was designed by Mecanoo.

Media caption,

Staff and visitors at the new Library of Birmingham discuss the building

Covered in thousands of interlocking steel circles, it shines jewel-like over Centenary Square.

Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the building cost about £186m and was a key part of Birmingham's "big city" regeneration plan.

Media caption,

Francine Houben explains the inspiration behind the new Library of Birmingham

The library comprises performance spaces, rooftop terraces and a large glass-topped central book rotunda that rises through the middle of the building, echoing the traditional great round reading room of the British Museum.

The intricate steel lattice work that covers the outside of the building represents both the city's industrial past and its heritage in jewellery making. It reflects and dissects the daylight to create ever-changing shadows on the library's walls and floors.

Media caption,

Rory Olcayto of the Architects' Journal on the new Library of Birmingham

At the top of the building is the Shakespeare memorial room - a golden rotunda designed to house the original carved wood panels from the memorial room at the city's demolished Victorian Library.

The collection, now vastly larger than the Victorian one, sits three floors below in large atmosphere-controlled rooms.

The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 as a replacement for John Madin's brutalist Central Library - a landmark that divided opinion on its style and was renowned for the difficulty of navigating it.

The new building is at the cultural heart of the city. It shares an entrance way and performance studio with the neighbouring Repertory Theatre, and with the Symphony Hall and the National Indoor Arena nearby.

BBC Riba Stirling Prize 2014

Film by John Galliver. Production: John Galliver, Susannah Stevens, Sarah Austin, John Lawrence.

Still images by Christian Richters, Martin Barber, AFP, Getty

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