Bournemouth Central Library

The library reinvented as stimulating public living room.

Four key aims drove our design: encourage the public into the library, inspire users, optimise working practices and create a vibrant economic hub.

We designed a mixed-use building, comprising 3,608 sq m (38,800 sq ft) of library space atop 3,572 sq m (38,450 sq ft) of street-level retail.

The library features a fully glazed north-facing elevation, allowing views to and from the street and a direct connection with the outside world.

Other features include an impressive triple-height foyer, an information/issue desk overlooking the entire library and a sweeping ‘horseshoe’ layout on the first floor housing a reference library, gallery, staff offices and more.


  • create a welcoming information building on a former car park
  • drive urban regeneration


  • visitor numbers up three-fold since launch
  • a reinstated historic line of the high street
  • a PFI project where the local authority insisted on quality and got it
  • awards: Prime Minister’s Award for Better Public Building 2003, Civic Trust Commendation 2003, Public Private Finance Award, Operational Local Government (runner up) 2005


Location: Bournemouth, UK
Client: Bournemouth Borough Council, Henry Boot (Kier Project Investment)
Construction cost: £8.5m
Completed: 2002
Awards: 3

Integrated services

architecture, acoustics, lighting

Links to images