Reinventing the library for the 21st Century

The Word

A stunning new library in South Shields, England reinterprets the traditional library design for the modern age.

The National Centre for the Written Word, or simply The Word, was designed by FaulknerBrown Architects and is inspired by a book’s pages fanning out, forming a circular structure.

Described as having a ‘human-centric design approach’, the library consists of a spacious atrium over a number of levels, enveloped by expanses of glazing and terracotta panels which create the ‘fanning pages’ effect. This combination of glass and terracotta ensures The Word complements its historical surroundings, which include a marketplace, town hall, and church.

This interactive atmosphere is continued inside the building. The space is open and generous, with seating areas near the atrium designed to encourage collaboration ‒ as the architects explained, ‘The Word is not a temple for silence, but a place for sharing knowledge’.

Addressing the fact we ‘all enjoy immediate access to information’, The Word is an interesting approach to modernising what is an important cultural hub in many towns and cities.

Discover more about the project here.

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