An underused Grade II-listed public library has undergone a refurbishment and extension to transform into a new civic anchor for Plumstead’s local community.
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 2 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 listing of the building in 2016 as an opportunity to invest and create a new facility that combines a range of community-aimed functions, and the library's refurbishment and extension is 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
As part of the refurbishment works to the listed building we were able to return spaces back to their former glory. One such space is the new multi-functional Vault where as part of the early design works the original vaulted ceiling was discovered that has been hidden away for over 70 years.
Working from the Inside Out
The external design language is continued into the interiors of the project. The Individual Collection of Spaces are given respective identities, emphasising the dynamic range of facilities within the building. The natural and welcoming Entrance is bookended by a sensitive and comforting touch to the Listed Building, and a robust and active design to the Leisure facilities.
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