The library is a freestanding object in the shape of an upside down pyramid that sits at the north end of Canada Water Basin, the ecological lake, formerly a historic dock for the import of Canadian timber. Conceived as a jewel for the community it is clad in light bronze anodized aluminium mesh-like sheets that create a water-like ripple texture across the facade that echoes the basin's water, and provides a vibrant focal point for the growing population.
Having contributed to the development of the Canada Water Masterplan, the team were very aware of the library's potential to become a catalyst for the regeneration of the area. Ensuring that the building was accessible to all without physical or psychological barriers was a key factor.
The building has an active frontage and a flexible interior to accommodate future demands. The ground floor incorporates an entrance to the Canada Water underground station and a multi-functional space with the capacity to connect the building with the plaza and accommodate inside/outside performances.
The other major publicly accessible level is the library itself which is arranged on the first floor in a level that cantilevers in all directions. The building, which minimises its ground floor footprint for the benefit of the public realm and views, has sloping facades that result in an increased upper floor plan. They also provide natural solar-shading to the extensive south-facing glazing while allowing low angle solar winter-warming.
The sloping rather than stepped facades reduce the ratio of wall area to volume enclosed, minimizing heat loss and maximizing the benefit of ground source heat pumps and solar panels.
The building, which achieved a very high 'Very Good' BREEAM rating, has continued to be monitored to develop an understanding of the operational energy performance.