The Brief

As part of the London Borough of Harrow undertaking for a major regeneration of residential and commercial facilities within Harrow, the Gayton Library in St Johns Road was being relocated to Perceval Square, College Road in Harrow Town Centre.

Their brief for the Greenhill Library was for it to become a multi-purpose community, cultural and learning facility.

The new services and infrastructure were to provide Greenhill residents, workers and visitors in the area, with a destination suitable for research, work and leisure. Expecting a significant increase in visitor numbers as well as the increase in services, the library brief expected modern, innovative, and flexible spaces to meet the existing and future needs of all users.

The library was relocating to the ground floor of a residential apartment block, and so all parties needed to work in unison to minimise disruption to the residents of 51 College Road, plus local businesses, residents, pedestrians, and traffic.

Greenhill Library had an unusual building shape, in some areas a cavernous double height space with high level windows required careful design considerations to create a welcoming, uncluttered, and easy to understand layout.

The practicalities of library storage were a minimum of 1200m of shelving, plus, additional book storage for the home library service.

Versatility and adaptability were requested for the space to be fully serviceable and relevant for the present and future, requiring flexible space and furniture.

Need for exceptional Project Management and teamworking capabilities, dealing with the different professionals involved with the project. Lighting, Electrical contractors, Design, Architects and Project Managers, namely: Ayer Associates, Akitva, Anslow Consulting, DJ Architects, Built by ITC

The Solution

Working to the Architects overall design for this project, FGLL gave consideration to the unusual shapes within the building and assisted in providing a distinctive character for each area, with styles, colour and textures.

The colour palette provided, complemented the exposed services and concrete columns, bringing vibrant colours in toned down hues to soften the stark industrial- open-plan feel. The Landscape shelving system was specified with coloured end panels used to identify zones. Bespoke-print end panels were also manufactured to provide visual interest, depicting furniture and services within the community centre.

Various soft furnishing elements were provided to encourage users to feel comfortable and welcomed in all areas of the library.

FGLL worked with the Architects to create a playful, joyous area where the excitement of reading can occur in a fun environment, with the treatment of primary colours, low level shelving and pockets of individual space. This was achieved with Landscape Shelving on sturdy break castors, which are robust against the knocks from young readers. The Architects developed a concept of a reading den inspired by rays of sunlight filtering through a forest, which FGLL technically designed to work in the space, developing the angles and joints for a structurally sound construction whilst keeping the intended magical, wistful style.

The young adult’s zone was given a studious, yet fun treatment with the Tiered seating system, providing a modern and adaptable seating area, both comfortable and practical. Ideally suited to the changing layouts required within this user area.

1200 linear meters of shelving was achieved with a combination of static and moveable Landscape shelving systems, specified in two heights 1800mm and 1500mm (4 and 5 high shelving), to provide consistency and uniformity throughout the library. Not forgetting the need to encourage visitors to pick up a book, curved display end shelving was also included, inviting and practical.

As a designer, manufacturer, and supplier of library furniture, FGLL worked with the lighting contractor to adapt our standard shelving to incorporate bespoke lighting elements. Creating a unique look utilising our joinery skills and experience, with the minimum of fuss and expense.

Understanding the need for flexibility of the entirety of Greenhill Library – the library, shelving, seating and study furniture was installed on castors, facilitating easier reconfiguration when needed, and future-proofed with additional furniture and adaptations you would expect from a specialist manufacturer.

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