Peckham Library stands as a momentous symbol of an era of optimism. Designed against the backdrop of New Labour and the approaching millennium, the library was commissioned by Southwark Council as part of the wide reaching regeneration of the borough in the late nineties. The brief sought to redefine the role of the library, encourage access to knowledge and embrace the diversity of the local community. Architects Alsop & Störmer worked with structural engineers AKTII to design an elevated ‘public living room’, incorporating timber wrapped learning pods shaped to resemble African pots. The main reading room is suspended 12m above the ground, creating a new public space below, and affording library users with a spectacular view of London’s skyline. The cantilevered library is supported by a ‘choreography of dancing columns’, angled to form an irregular arcade, and providing stability when grouped, like the ‘legs of a giraffe’. In the final episode of AF Turns 30, Afterparti talk to the designers engaged in the library’s past and present, exploring ideas of generosity, power and community.

Afterparti is a collective of architects, curators and writers interested in exploring ideas of equity in the city. Siufan Adey works collaboratively across film, publishing and curation, currently studying MA Research Architecture at Goldsmiths with Forensic Architecture. Thomas Aquilina is a London-based architect and academic invested in building communities of radical thought. He is co-director of the New Architecture Writers programme.


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