The new library of Birmingham, designed by Francine Houben of the Dutch collective Mecanoo and opened on 3 September 2013 - the opening address by Malala Yousafzai.
Aptly described by Stuart Maconie as' an airy, black-and gold-palazzo of mesh and glass', it is a wondrous place. This is not just a big, ten storey building full of books. It also houses an art gallery, a children's area, a multimedia centre, two cafes, a music library, a performance space, a theatre, a restaurant, and terraces with herb gardens.
'This is a people's palace', commented the architect. And this is precisely what it is - it was packed.
The blue lights on the escalators are really atmospheric.
There are 400,000 volumes on display, plus hundreds of thousands more in the archive including a Shakespeare First Folio and John James Audubon's Birds of America, worth £7m each.
The multimedia centre
The women's contemplation room - the men's had small rugs on the floor. There was a washroom with shower next to each contemplation room
Going down the escalators - the mezzanine floor on the far left is one of the cafes
quite an elaborate ceiling above the escalators.
Comfortable chairs everywhere
The children's area
Leading out to the Discovery Terrace on level 3
The Discovery Terrace
where the herb garden is
one more photograph
The glass lift which rises through the upper part of the library's central rotunda
and which takes you up to the 7th floor
onto the Secret Garden
and panoramic views of the city
The Secret Garden
Back inside and looking out.
The Shakespeare Memorial Room on the 8th floor.
The original feature from the city's Victorian library was designed by John Henry Chamberlain in 1882. Since then it has changed home twice. It originally housed the Birmingham Shakespeare Library, which is still available at the Library of Birmingham. The room is wood panelled with glass printed shelves inspired by the Elizabethan age with carvings, marquetry and metalwork representing birds, flowers and foliage. The woodwork is by noted woodcarver Mr Barfield, and the brass and metal work is most likely crafted by Hardmans.
The books and memorabilia are items from the Library's general collections.
View of Centenary Square from the mezzanine floor café. I would not recommend the food here - this was the only negative aspect of our visit.