Bisset Adams rewrites library style

A reinvention of the public library, designed and branded by Bisset Adams, received Government approval yesterday when Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell visited the £2m pilot Idea Store in Bow, which is in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Bisset Adams has devised the name, identity, website, signage and interiors of the 1115m2 site. The site aims to ‘engage, enrich and empower’ the residents of one of London’s poorest boroughs with a range of IT and lifelong learning services in a retail-style library environment. The architectural design has been worth around £120 000 to the group.

The project began in 1998 when Tower Hamlets council decided to address the deterioration in take-up of services at its 12 public libraries. The council’s plan was to increase footfall and improve access through better location and design.

‘Market research suggested that in order to increase participation we had to get away from the depressing municipal image of libraries and adopt a retail-style approach,’ says Idea Store programme director Heather Wills.

Bisset Adams project architect Pete Batchelor says, ‘The interfaces of the buildings have to work as part of the wider retail surroundings as well as use the same language.’

The name ‘Idea’ was chosen, he explains, because ‘everyone has ideas and ideas can change our lives’. The ‘bright and contemporary’ interiors look is intended to appeal to what is a diverse audience. Hard-wearing finishes have been employed, along with bold colours and graphics, which were created by Bisset Adams designer Dan Barber.

The Bow Idea Store is a prototype, but seven such centres are expected to follow.

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