East Street Exchange

We Made That, London, 2018


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Jakob Spriestersbach     Download Original

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East Street Library in Southwark is a well-used public library that was facing under-investment ahead of long-term relocation proposals.

It was identified that much more could be achieved at the library with just a little more space. A newly opened extension – East Street Exchange – now allows the library to host a flexible range of new uses. It offers an affordable space for local businesses, entrepreneurs and community groups; provides a much-needed flexible meeting space for groups in the area to meet (bookable even outside of normal library opening hours); and makes space for homework club and peer-to-peer language assistance.

The proportions and footprint of the new extension at the rear of the library create a distinct form change in comparison to the existing building. Bright anodised cladding and a perforate ‘turret’ make the extension a characterful and distinctive contribution to the neighbourhood.

The interiors of the extension are built to prioritise flexibility of use within the space. Bespoke furniture has been designed with the potential to be ‘flat-packed’ and stowed away on pegboard walls, clearing the space for alternative set-ups and functions. Refurbishment of the 'back of house’ facilities in the library now benefit all library users and out-of-hours users of the Exchange.

Large new windows, glazed doors and an internal glazed screens maximise daylight within the Exchange, while the internal reconfiguration of the library moves shelving and obstructions away from windows, allowing in more light and making the space feel more generous.

This extension demonstrates a willingness by the local authority to reinvigorate community spaces through intelligent interventions. The East Street Exchange unlocks a new lease of life for this vital community asset, especially in the context of wide-scale change planned in the area.


  • Begun: Apr 2018
  • Completed: Aug 2018
  • Floor area: 80m2
  • Sectors: Civic, Education
  • Total cost: £235,780
  • Funding: London Borough of Southwark & Greater London Authority
  • Tender date: Jan 2018
  • Procurement: GC/Works/1 Without Quantities (1998)
  • Address: 168 - 170 Old Kent Road, London, SE1 5TY, United Kingdom

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