The refurbishment and extension of Lea Bridge Library in East London has added an adaptable wood-lined community space and café, providing visitors with flexible spaces to work, learn and socialise.
The 250m2 single-storey wing makes use of a mass timber primary structure to improve access and connection to the public gardens and bring a new lease of life to the Grade-II listed Edwardian library.
The elongated footprint of the building extends from the original library building and runs along the perimeter wall of the green, planted area called Friendship Gardens. Tapered LVL beams support a length of floor-to-ceiling overhead glazing along the entire east elevation. By anchoring the structure and bulk of the building to one side, this continuous, open connection to the gardens is enabled.
With two new access points, visitors are able to enter the pavilion via the gardens as well as through the refurbished main entrance and foyer. The foyer leads to a new café, before opening into the main community centre, where the dividable open plan layout contains interspersed ‘reading room’ spaces.
With reuse at the heart of the project, salvaged wood from trees felled across London is used for all the internal joinery and furniture. A ribbon of skylights fills the interior with light, picking up the varying tones of the patchworked wood. The timber lining reinforces the link to the library while creating a natural visual language that connects to the garden and trees outside.
Externally, a natural stone walkway runs the length of the pavilion, while a red precast concrete façade compliments the red brick of the heritage library building.
Highly visible from the street, the completed scheme transforms what used to be a blank wall and deteriorating garden into a delightfully animated and welcoming public resource.