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Chandler's Ford Library

A Grade II Listed Building in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9877 / 50°59'15"N

Longitude: -1.3731 / 1°22'23"W

OS Eastings: 444098

OS Northings: 121112

OS Grid: SU440211

Mapcode National: GBR 86R.TZY

Mapcode Global: FRA 860H.NWX

Entry Name: Chandler's Ford Library

Listing Date: 30 April 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1425140

Location: Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO53

County: Hampshire

District: Eastleigh

Civil Parish: Chandler's Ford

Built-Up Area: Eastleigh

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Chandler's Ford St Boniface

Church of England Diocese: Winchester

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Eastleigh

Summary

Public library, 1981-2 by County Architect, Colin Stansfield Smith, project architect Barry Bryant, engineers Anthony Hunt and Associates, interiors by Terry Riggs, mural by Graham Crowley; opened May 1983.

Description

Public library, 1981-2 by County Architect, Colin Stansfield Smith, project architect Barry Bryant, engineers Anthony Hunt and Associates, interiors by Terry Riggs, mural by Graham Crowley; opened May 1983.

STRUCTURE AND MATERIALS: the building has steeply-pitched plain tile roofs in facetted sections, supported on load bearing brick diaphragm walls and internal splayed timber columns. Side and rear walls are clad in warm, red facing brick, the front wall is fully glazed. External fixtures and fittings, trims and finishes are painted red.

PLAN: the building is semicircular on plan facing a small open public space at the end of the shopping precinct. The ground floor is a single space, but with a small, defined children’s area and behind it a staff workroom and services. Above is a shallower mezzanine, also on the curve, reached by centrally-placed stairs, and now also a lift. Leading off it is the librarian’s office which overlooks the library, and at the rear the staff room and stock room. At the other end of the mezzanine a separate room, enclosed in glass screen walls, was created during the recent refurbishment. Separate stairs within the staff area also give access to the upper level.

EXTERIOR: the front of the building is concave in form, comprising a fully glazed screen wall above a narrow red cill band, with central entrance doors. To the left, the convex brick form of the staff stair is set back beneath the deep canopy created by the roof. The rear of the building is in the form of a brick drum punctuated with occasional door and window openings beneath deep oversailing eaves. Window openings are deep set with raking brick cills and flat arches with red painted soffits. Windows are timber pivot- or top-hung casements, painted red. Rainwater goods, also painted red, fit closely under the eaves forming a soffit and closure at the outer ends of the curve. Clerestory glazing is set into the rear sections of the roof. An external steel staircase leads from the western end of the mezzanine.

INTERIOR: the open space is divided at the front by tree-like splayed timber columns which rise to the roof and at the rear by square section piers which support the mezzanine. Glazed walls have internal fins that create bay divisions. The front wall is lined with a continuous bench set forward from the structural frame, now coloured blue (originally red), which when installed disguised convection heaters.

The mezzanine stands forward from the rear wall, making space for a mural by Graham Crowley in coloured plastic cut-outs depicting the Four Seasons, which is mounted on the rear wall and is top-lit by clerestory windows in the roof above it. Stairs rise opposite the entrance; the original curved stair well has been replaced with an open well stair which wraps round a lift (these are not of special interest). However, solid masonry walls are still painted red as in the original structure and importantly the stairs are set forward from the rear wall and the mural. The mezzanine has a tubular steel frame and glass balustrade, which gives it a sense of openness. The steel frame is painted blue - the original colour scheme.

To the left, the librarian’s office, a glass fronted box, and also top-lit, projects over the ground floor. Staff stairs to the upper floor have a curved profile, expressing their external form. The ground floor staff workroom retains original timber desks which have red laminate worktops.

The shelving and issue desks were refurbished in 2012/13 and are mostly free-standing; they are not of special interest.


History

Chandler's Ford Library was designed and built in 1981-2 by the County Architect, Colin Stansfield Smith, with project architect Barry Bryant and engineers Anthony Hunt and Associates; it opened in May 1983. It was built at a cost of £356,000. It was the showpiece of the Hampshire County Council Architect's Department, which was noted for its inventive and successful school buildings.

Built to serve the growing commuter town of Chandlers Ford, the library was set back from both the Winchester Road and Oakmount Road, placing it within the heart of the community rather than on the street frontage. The architect Ted Cullinan, reviewing the building in 1983, considered that it was very cleverly placed since 'It allows people to perceive and approach the library from both roads and to pass it on the way from one to another' (Architect's Journal, 1983, 37). He observed that it was always intended 'as the first vital part of an as yet incomplete environment' (AJ, op cit, 39); it stands at the head of a short shopping mall which was constructed subsequently. It was well received on completion, both in the architectural press and by the public, becoming eleventh busiest in the county.

The interiors were designed by Terry Riggs - bright colours, set against white painted walls, were applied to different fixtures within the building - and included a mural by the artist Graham Crowley. Cullinan perceived the building as four, ordered layers, read from the outside to the back wall, that reinforced his interpretation of it as an alcove off the main route. First came the layer of glass between inside and out, then the main space, defined by tree-like posts supporting the roof. Thirdly, the detached table [mezzanine] supports the upper quieter part of the library creating a secondary space on two levels, and finally comes the top-lit back wall which has Crowley's 'flighty, detached, harmonious, coloured plastic, abstract mural on it.' (AJ, op cit, 37).

The library was refurbished in 2012/13; the central stairs were reconfigured to accommodate a lift, the original colour coded Remploy Lundia shelving was replaced with moveable units. Benches have been re-covered in blue, replacing the original red scheme which survives in the staff area.

Sir Colin Stansfield Smith (1932-2013, knighted in 1993) led a reaction in the county architect’s department against system-building and standardisation, introducing one-off steel frames and expansive roofs, and creating a large body of important work done in-house or by private architects. More consistent was the planning of the schools, many of which featured large top-lit atria. The library follows this form, while also acknowledging the common post-war plan of a mezzanine housing the books, leaving the entrance area more freely planned for exhibitions and events, or simply for comfortable chairs. Leading engineers Edmund Happold and Anthony Hunt worked on Chandler’s Ford library as well as many of the Hampshire schools.

Graham Crowley (b.1950) trained at St Martin's School of Art, London and the Royal College of Art, where he continued as a visiting lecturer. He has exhibited extensively in Britain and has contributed to wide-ranging publications. At the time the library was built he was Artist in Residence at Oxford University, a year which concluded in May 1983 with a one-man exhibition, Home Comforts, at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. Other public commissions included Ticket on the Move, his first major public art commission, at the Pitt and Scott building, London (1981) and The Birds at the Brompton Hospital, London (1982).

The library holds an archive of photographs of the building, recording its original layout, fixtures and fittings.

Reasons for Listing

Chandler's Ford Library, 1981-2 by County Architect, Colin Stansfield Smith is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: in the spatial qualities evident in its horseshoe-plan, a brick drum at the rear and fully-glazed concave front wall, beneath an expansive tile roof supported internally on striking timber tree-like shafts;
* Internal plan: a colourful, airy, full-height space, defined by the shafts and a lightweight mezzanine, set forward from the rear wall;
* Planning interest: the focal point of the new, enlarged community at Chandlers Ford, and catalyst for future development, the library was intentionally set back from the street frontages, inviting approach from all angles;
* Design interest: a showpiece of the celebrated County Council Architect's Department, led by Colin Stansfield Smith, which is known particularly for its school buildings;
* Art work: Four Seasons by Graham Crowley, mounted on the rear wall, commissioned by the local authority at the outset to enhance public experience of the library.

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