Campaigners hoping to save Birmingham’s Central Library building from the bulldozers have drawn up plans for its inclusion in the regeneration of Paradise Circus.
The 1974 building, designed by the architect John Madin, has been earmarked for demolition for more than a decade while council bosses set out designing and building the new library which is due to open next year.
Earlier this year developers Argent and Altitude unveiled the official master plan, which involves the rebuilding of Paradise Circus with offices, public spaces and a new concert hall, earlier this year and are currently consulting on the plans.
But instead of pulling down the Brutalist concrete clad building, the Friends Of The Central Library say it should be converted and set at the heart of a revived Paradise Forum surrounded by new offices, shops and public spaces.
Their alternative master plan, drawn up by architect Joe Holyoak and Rob Turner, of Eatarchitecture, shows the library at the centre of a cluster of offices, a hotel, a concert venue and two public squares on the eight-acre Paradise Circus island.
It responds to the official plan by asserting that the Central Library is an outstanding piece of architecture of which Birmingham should be proud.
And argues that it is a robust building which, although no longer needed as a library, can be put to a range of alternative uses and that its demolition, less that 40 years after its construction, is a huge waste and against all principals of sustainability.
Mr Holyoak admitted that some of the issues, including any affection for the Central Library, are subjective. “I know it is difficult to like, but it is a great piece of architecture of its time. I cannot easily be dismissed as of no architectural importance as some have suggested.”
He points out that English Heritage have twice recommended it for listing only to have that blocked by Secretaries of State.
“I would take the view of English Heritage over that of politicians,” he adds.
But he says that there are also more objective arguments for the Central Library, including a challenge to a view put about that it is an obstacle to movement through the site and should go.
He argues that the central atrium was designed by John Madin to allow easy movement between Centenary Square and Chamberlain Square and if substantially de-cluttered of all the shops and bars could be modelled into an aspiring open public space.