Photo Credits © Glancy Nicholls Architects
Previously commended by the MacEwen Award panel, which recognises architecture for the common good, the library is part of an £11.2m redevelopment of the long-derelict Thornton’s confectionery factory in Derwent Road.
Derbyshire County Council commissioned Glancy Nicholls Architects to design a scheme for the brownfield site - which now accommodates a two-storey dementia care home, café and public square, as well as the library. The project was not just about re-use but regeneration of a run-down part of town.
It was a collaborative endeavour, with library staff attending every project meeting from the outset, and working particularly closely with the architects on interior design.
The £1.7m new library replaced its predecessor in Bridge Street, opening its doors in August 2020. The single-storey, double-height space features large windows which provide plenty of natural light and make the welcoming interior visible from the street.
The Covid pandemic meant there was no opening ceremony or initial programme of events. However, Belper has already moved from being the tenth busiest library in Derbyshire to the second busiest, in terms of visitor numbers. Issues and active users are way up, too.