Peckham Library

Alsop and Stormer, London, 2000


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  • In Peckham Library Alsop & Störmer has created a local landmark which is designed to appeal to local residents and their children       
  • Peckham Library’s unusual composition is reminiscent of a bookend with one end resting on the floor and the other balanced on a set of slender and surprisingly angled columns     
  • Coloured illumination makes the library an obvious local landmark by day and by night.  The deep overhang gives a large covered area which relates to the collection of public features at the foot of Peckham Rye    
  • View of the staircase     
  • The library with glimpses of two pods    
  • Three blob-shaped pods at mezzanine level are visible above the reading room bookstacks.  One,  containing Afro-Caribbean literature, is open,  while the two closed rooms contain a meeting room,  and a children’s play area    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Level 2 plan    
  • Level 4 plan    
  • Level 5 plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Section B-B    
  • Sketch    
  • Reception desk and pod detail    
  • Pod construction detail    

Copper clad high-rise library featuring internal learning ‘pods’ and a two-storey cantilever 12 meters above ground level, supported on leaning steel columns with concrete infill and a bifurcated steel truss

The public library at Peckham, south London, completed late in 1999, is part of a concerted programme of regeneration and community growth for this part of the borough of Southwark and forms one element in a new public square. The architectural approach responds to a client brief which seeks to redefine the role of the library in the local community.

The Peckham model proposes that the 21st century library should reach out to the community, encourage access to knowledge and embrace the diversity of the local population.

The Peckham Library is supported on concrete-filled steel columns, angled to form an irregular arcade which encloses a covered space, an extension of the new square.

External claddings are chosen for durability and for their expressive textures and colours, pre-patinated copper and steel mesh contrast with coloured glass (used on the north facade). The library itself is at fourth floor level, the short arm of an inverted 'L', with offices, meeting rooms and other ancillary facilities on the lower floors.


  • Begun: Feb 1998
  • Completed: Feb 2000
  • Floor area: 2,300m2
  • Sectors: Civic, Education
  • Total cost: £4.5M
  • Address: 122 Peckham Hill Street, London, SE15 5JR, United Kingdom

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