Gravesend Library

Built in 1905, the Grade II Listed Carnegie Library had serious issues. Poorly ventilated, hot in summer and cold in winter. 2 Georgian shophouses acquired in the ‘80s to extend the library were structurally unsound and badly damaged in the ‘87 storm. Only the ground floor was safe to the public. Very poor accessibility. Original features obscured over the years.  

It took 30 years to raise funds to put this right. We were brought on board when an impasse with conservation officers over the plan to replace the shophouses put the project at risk. 

We balanced the aspiration for a flexible and contemporary town centre library with conservation, by faithfully reconstructing the shophouse elevations using original materials, supported by a new three-storey steel frame extension that fulfils all the library’s contemporary requirements. The Carnegie Library is restored to a high standard to make up for the loss of the shophouses.  

A contemporary cor-ten steel and glass shopfront creates an open and welcoming entrance to the library and reveals the reconstruction’s true nature at street level. We chose cor-ten for its looks and because it was a patent of the company founded by Andrew Carnegie. 

Conservation and refurbishment works include masonry and window repairs, re-roofing and insulating the slate roofs and flat roofs. Historic roof lanterns are refurbished to reduce heat gain and solar glare, provide passive-stack ventilation and night cooling to the library spaces.  We designed purpose made contemporary book stacks and fitted furniture. The building is fully accessible on all levels. 

Originally planned as a Design and Build, the project was procured traditionally because of the technical complexity of the build. The works completed within budget in late August 2011. 

Kasan's creativity runs through a project like a golden thread. Always practical, with an understanding of the clients needs at the core of design. His approachable nature and attention to detail makes for a great working relationship with the client and contractors

Jane Setterfield, client project manager Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope & Gravesend Library