Architecture practice Caruso St John has won the RIBA competition to design a new building for Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, alongside the redevelopment of the existing grade one-listed Victorian library and surrounding gardens.
Caruso St John beat AOC Architecture, Hopkins Architects and Simpson & Brown.
Gladstone’s Living Heritage Project is intended to deliver a flexible, contemporary space, to enable the expansion of an events programme including lectures and debates, as part of the library’s strategy to reach a broader audience.
The building is Britain’s only Prime Ministerial library, in that it stands in tribute to its founder, the Victorian statesman William Ewart Gladstone; and is the country’s only residential library. Formerly known as St Deiniol’s, the building has 26 guest bedrooms, a 50-cover bistro and space for conferencing and events.
The project will be dedicated to three defining themes of Gladstone’s political career: human rights and genocide; the evolution of democracy; and religious tolerance. These will be the focus of a permanent exhibition and will form part of the library’s future work and mission.
A previous proposal for the library’s expansion, covering an events space, enlarged restaurant, office facilities and more bedrooms, previously went out to tender in 2015. OMI emerged as winner from a field that included Donald Insall Associates, Austin-Smith:Lord, AOC, Purcell and Shepherd Epstein Hunter.
Gladstone’s Library is currently fundraising for the project.
Charlie Gladstone, president of Gladstone’s Library, said: “When we first decided to embark on an ambitious extension of Gladstone’s Library we were clear that we wanted to work with a really good architect. Our aim was to further enhance the Library by creating a building of true beauty and national importance. And so we’re thrilled to be working with a globally recognised firm with a phenomenal track record. Gladstone’s Library is widely regarded as one of the world’s most important centres of liberal thought and our extension will help to further our reputation and reach.”
Peter Francis, warden and director of Gladstone’s Library commented: “Caruso St John’s design not only fulfils our brief but will have a very low environmental impact and will minimise energy use beyond what we imagined was possible. All materials are local, renewable and recyclable. It is a wonderful design so without any hesitation at all we can enthusiastically and eagerly start to find the funds to realise both our own and Caruso St John’s ambitions.”