Gladstone Library Extension


Large, blockbuster competitions often gain the attention of the world architectural community; but the RIBA’s policy of providing administrative collaboration for more modest-sized projects in the U.K. is certainly laudable. In this particular case, the competition was for an extension of the Galdstone’s Library, located in Wales.


As has recently been customary in most U.K. competitions, shortlisted firms competed for the opportunity to gain the commission for the project. With the exception of Simpson & Brown (Edinburgh), the finalists were all based in London:


Caruso St John (Winner):



AOC Architecture:



Hopkins Architects:



Simpson & Brown:



In commenting about the winner, Professor Michael Wheeler, President of the Board of Trustees, stated, “Modesty” and “appropriateness” are important terms in their lexicon, as they are keen to produce a “new hall” which achieves a strong presence without challenging or overwhelming our original Gothic building. With its massive walls and long low profile, the new building has something of the monastic about it, referencing a long tradition of hospitality and reflection which we maintain at the Library. In the new hall we can offer readers and visitors charming spaces in which to enjoy lively exhibitions, good food and engaging courses and lectures.



According to Peter Francis, Warden and Director of Gladstone’s Library, “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.