Civic Building for the 21st Century
Multiple RIBA awards for £16.0m Crawley Library
This acoustically complex, signature designed open-plan multi-functional civic building includes a library, administrative and social services accommodation, performing arts/seminar accommodation, a coffee shop and a separately accessed Registry Office.
Along with two RIBA awards, this West Sussex landmark scheme also achieved a BREEAM Very Good rating. The acoustic design brief was to sustain design excellence throughout to ensure that the completely new-build open plan library, forming part of a multifunction building, including new offices for council staff and a seminar/performing arts space, coffee shop, as well as meeting rooms and ceremony rooms, works well. As libraries are intended as quiet spaces to allow for concentration and study, the open plan nature of the scheme design presented challenges from the start. The client team, however, anticipated the end product should have a vibrant and 'lively' feel to it, so many of the public spaces within the building purposely connect to each other. A sizeable open central stairwell, which progresses through the building to connect all the four floors, gives a very light and airy feel throughout.
AAD's appointment was to assist the design team in balancing the delivery of a 'lively' space whilst also restricting the generation and transfer of activity related noise. This was achieved through careful consideration, initially for floor finishes, then other surfaces to optimise source and reverberation control, accomplished by closely considered use of shapes and materials. "The scheme design was able to accommodate particular acoustic finishes on the balustrade of the full height central stair feature," explained AAD's Senior Consultant, Paul Cockram, "which is a major contributor to acoustic control". Further benefit was secured with additional discreet areas and types of acoustic finishing critical to secure speech intelligibility, for example, at reception desks and other important areas.
"The new library is larger and more accessible, with better facilities, including a coffee shop, dedicated 'headspace' area for teenagers and a Help Point for all kinds of enquiries," commented Crawley Council.