Today’s Friday photo is of the demolition of Birmingham Central Library. Opened in 1974 the Library was designed by local architect John Madin in the brutalist style. Since it open it created a marmite effect, some loved it some hated it. The Prince of Wales once referred to Birmingham’s Central Library as looking like “a place where books are incinerated, not kept”. Whilst a supporters group have recently stated “The former Central Library is one of three Brutalist buildings in the UK identified by the World Monuments Fund in 2012 as the best of their kind”.
Personally, although I do appreciate the uniqueness of the brutalist style, I am sorry to say that I never much warmed to the building and felt it always looked out of place. The building was originally due to be part of a wider new civic centre, but due to cut backs much was not completed and the quality of materials were reduced. Perhaps this is why it looked so out of context. The new plans for the area look like it will open up the space once more for local people, instead of being a concrete corridor between two main areas of the city. The new plans look like they will complement the beautiful town hall and council house, which are the real heritage stars of this area. Although I think the real tragedy was the demolition of the original 1883 Library designed by John Henry Chamberlain, which was demolished to make way for a new “road” and replaced in function by John Madin’s building. Birmingham Council in the 1960-70’s made some shocking decisions in the name of progress. However, this opens the question as to whether in 40 years will future generations be writing about the shocking decision to demolish this brutalist building? Only time will tell if history mourns the loss of this building.