The Plumstead Centre\

A new type of community building

A Grade II-listed public library refurbished, extended and transformed into a new civic anchor for Plumstead’s local community

The Challenge

Plumstead Library was built in 1903. One of the first Carnegie-funded libraries, it sits as a prominent civic building on Plumstead High Street. Plumstead Library’s use has diminished throughout the past century, with only two rooms open to the public and the new project is seen as the first step in the regeneration of the High Street.

The Big Idea

Instead of closing down a key public asset, the Royal Borough of Greenwich saw the building gaining listed status in 2016 as an opportunity to invest and create a new facility that combines a range of community-aimed functions, with the library's refurbishment and extension playing the first step in the Plumstead Urban Framework. Improved library rooms, new leisure facilities, reinstated flexible spaces, and a new café will create a new social destination for the residents and the High Street, making this key heritage asset available and open to the public.

The Small Detail

The refurbishment enabled spaces to be returned to their former glory, such as the new multi-functional vault. In this space the early design works we discovered the original vaulted ceiling, which had been hidden for over 70 years.

Working from the Inside Out

The external design language extends into the interior, where each individual space has been given a distinctive identity, emphasising the dynamic range of facilities within the building. The refreshing marriage of leisure and library services under one roof has led one local resident to comment on the new typology, as a “gymbrary”.

“As a building for the local community, the Plumstead Centre was designed through close collaboration and discussion with residents. I am incredibly proud of the Centre and the new year-round opportunities it will offer residents through its flexible and adaptable design.

Elements of past, present and future Plumstead have been seamlessly embedded within the building, from the reinstatement of our print collection through to the stories written into the façade by local school children.”

Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich

Project Summary

Project Team

Structural Engineer: PBA
Project Management:
Quantity Surveyor:
Planning Consultant: BPTW


  • RIBA London Awards 2022 - Winner
  • RIBA Awards 2022 - Conservation - Winner
  • AJ100 2021 - Community Impact of the Year - Shortlisted
  • AJ100 2021 - Building of the Year - Winner
  • Civic Trust Awards 2021 - National - Winner
  • New London Awards 2020 - Experiencing Culture - Highly commended

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