Library of Birmingham is officially 1st Class

Library of Birmingham included in special stamp set issued by Royal Mail to celebrate contemporary architecture in the UK

Stamp of the Library of Birmingham held by the Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian WardThe Library of Birmingham has been included in a set of new Special Stamps issued by Royal Mail that celebrate 10 iconic buildings in the UK.

Designed by Francine Houben, of the Dutch architectural practice Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham has been designed to be a “people’s palace” – a grand structure that celebrates the importance of learning but which also “promotes the informal” and “seduces people into coming in”.

Houben believes that libraries are “the cathedrals of nowadays” and “the most important public buildings”.

The exterior of the ten-storey building is wrapped in broad bands of gold and silver cladding, overlaid with a filigree pattern of interlocking circles in thin sections of aluminium.

Inside, a large cylindrical void rises through the centre, criss-crossed by blue-lit escalators and giving access to many different uses, including adult and children’s libraries, a musical collection, a studio theatre, an exhibition gallery and the Shakespeare Memorial Room, whose ornate timber interior was originally created in 1882 and reinstalled at the top of the new building.

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The fact that the Library of Birmingham is included in this series of stamps seals the city’s national and international reputation –  Birmingham is now officially first class!

“The Library of Birmingham has become an iconic part of the city’s skyline and it attracts visitors from around the city, the UK and the world who come to see our Shakespeare collection, beautiful terraces and admire its architecture. I’m thrilled Royal Mail recognise it as a landmark building.” 

Francine Houben, Founding Architect of Mecanoo, said: "Our dream was to create a People's Palace: inviting, welcoming, and inspiring for all ages and backgrounds. Where visitors embark on a journey of discovery, moving from one floor to the next through a sequence of rotundas. The repeating circles of the facade create a continuously changing world of light, shadows and reflections inside the building. To have a building on a UK stamp is a great honour for a Dutch architect."

Philip Parker, Stamp Strategy Manager, Royal Mail, said: “These new stamps celebrate visionary buildings which combine stunning architecture with great engineering.”

The images on the stamps capture the distinctive lines and shapes of the structures that have become famous landmarks.

Also featured in the set are: the London Aquatics Centre; the SEC Armadillo, Glasgow; the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh; Giants’ Causeway Visitor Centre, Northern Ireland; the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff; the Eden Project, St Austell; the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool; the IWM North, Manchester and the Blavatnik Building – formerly Switch House, Tate Modern, London.
The past two decades has seen a surge in the construction of new public buildings in the UK.

A great many of these adventurous and innovative structures, serving culture, sport, government and business, have since become popular and integral parts of their local landscapes, often playing a part in regeneration.

Some were initiated by central government, some by civic leaders of major cities, and others were the ideas of passionate individuals.

There has also been a renewal of confidence in British architecture led by world-famous architects including Zaha Hadid, Lord Richard Rogers and Lord Norman Foster, along with a host of other talents.

The new stamps are available from today at and 7,000 Post Offices across the UK.

Article posted on 14 July 2017

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