Studio Weave were commissioned to design an extension to the Grade-II listed Lea Bridge Library in East London, adding a cafe and adaptable community space – to deliver a revived civic heart for the Borough of Waltham Forest. The project addresses the changing role of a library in modern civic infrastructure conceiving a new wing that offers places to work, learn, socialise, and gather.
Our scheme adjoins to the rear of the original Edwardian red brick library, lightly engaging with the listed setting – with materiality which complements the tonality of its forebear. And to achieve both a sympathetic site layout, and structural efficiency: the extension leans against a blank perpendicular party wall, from which the new wing enjoys panoramic views of the garden.
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The design sits harmoniously amongst existing mature trees, with a rectangular footprint punctuated by cut outs coordinated with canopies and trunks. Midway along its length, the plan ‘pinches in’ and ‘steps up’ to protect the root system of a close-neighbouring Common Lime tree. This momentary inflection in the plan – constructed with smooth sweeping concave glass – is utilised as an opportunity to provide flexibility to divide the pavilion, to accommodate multiple functions concurrently.
A red precast concrete colonnade connects the length of the plan – providing a backdrop to the garden which sits comfortably adjacent the listed building, and shelters a contemporary threshold to the extension by a regular posts and beam arrangement that conceals drainage which redirects water into the tree root system below. Accessibility is critical to equality and the success of the Lea Bridge Library Pavilion: the colonnade also features a gently graded natural stone walkway provides level access for all throughout, connecting new access points which enable arrival from the surrounding neighbourhood through the garden at the side and rear of the site.
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