Thamesmead library contest winner

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Bissett Adams have won a contest to design a new state-of-the-art library and civic space in Thamesmead, south-east London. 


The competition was run by Peabody, the London Borough of Bexley and the Royal Institute for British Architects. It attracted international interest, with emerging practices and established firms submitting concepts for the library. 

Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE said: “My congratulations go to Bissett Adams for their winning design. There is so much to be excited about in Thamesmead at the moment. This is just another key part of our regeneration work that will benefit so many and make a real difference to the borough as a whole. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to get involved in the decision by taking part in the consultation process.”

John Whiles (Founding Director, Jestico+Whiles) commented: "From the short-listing of teams to participate in the design phase and now the selection of Bisset Adams as the winners, this competition has been a rewarding and challenging process, made all the more interesting by Peabody's commitment to community involvement in the project. Bisset Adams' winning scheme is clearly an exciting start to the development of an iconic, flexible library and community facility both for and with the residents of the new Thamesmead.”

New Southmere Village library

About the library concept

Selected by an expert panel after a two-week public consultation with local people, Bisset Adams’ concept for the library celebrates and reflects the unique natural environment of Thamesmead. The building will sit on the banks of Southmere Lake, a short distance from the start of the new Elizabeth station at Abbey Wood. The new facility will serve the needs of existing and future communities, with a 21st century library, learning space and potential to accommodate other civic functions, including learning, health and wellbeing spaces.

The building will be integrated into the Abbey Wood and South Thamesmead housing zone where Peabody has outline planning permission for 1,600 new homes. It will also complement the re-opened Lakeside Centre on the other side of the lake where Peabody is working with Bow Arts to create an enterprise kitchen and artist space for people working in the creative industries. 

John Lewis, Peabody Executive Director for Thamesmead said: “We are excited to be moving forward with the creation of a new permanent library and civic centre for South Thamesmead. I think this highlights the level of investment and commitment both Peabody and the London Borough of Bexley are making to Thamesmead, but more importantly it shows that this is not just about building new homes. This is about enhancing Thamesmead for the existing community, making a fantastic place to live, study, work and visit. My thanks to all the practices that took the time to enter the competition. We had some really good, thoughtful concepts from a wide variety of firms. I look forward to working with Bisset Adams and the rest of the South Thamesmead team as the designs of the new space evolve. We hope to be ready for a planning submission in the Spring.”

New Southmere Village library

Southmere Village regeneration

Bisset Adams will now work as part of the Southmere village design team, led by Proctor and Matthews architects, to develop a detailed design for the library building and submit it to the London Borough of Bexley for planning permission. With Peabody and the London Borough of Bexley, they will work closely in consultation over the coming months with the community, making sure residents achieve a new library and community facility that truly represents their Thamesmead.

Bisset Adams Director Iain Johnston said: “Bisset Adams is very passionate about libraries and the important role they play in community life. Having been designing innovative libraries for two decades we are delighted to be announced as the RIBA Competition winners for Southmere Village Library.

It’s a great opportunity to design a library at the heart of the Southmere Village regeneration project and extra special to have a site right on the edge of the lake.

We wanted to create a design which tells a story about the lake and the environment. It’s a truly sustainable structure constructed from CLT timber, which is left exposed to create a warm interior environment. We also wanted it to be fun. The concept was inspired by the swans nesting by the lakeside. We used the pattern of a swan’s nest as a texture for the perforated cladding of the cantilevered upper box which faces out to the lake & created a bed of reeds for screening the children's library from the main space. We hope it will be a very special place to learn, browse and study.

This is a project which is genuinely about collaboration: with the community; the library team; Peabody & the architects creating the vision for the masterplan. We are very excited to be part of this next chapter in Southmere Village.”

The library could be open by Summer 2021.