Birmingham Central Library, demolition has begun



Brutalist architecture is doing it hard all over the planet.

  1. Blog
  2. News
  3. Birmingham Central Library, demolition has begun

Birmingham Central Library, demolition has begun Brutalist architecture is doing it hard all over the planet. Eugene Keogh photographed the Birmingham Central Library, now in the throes of demolition and shared with Livegreenblog his memory of John Madin’s building.

You get the feeling that things are not looking at all good for Brutalist architect, in different parts of the world. While in Oslo, the battle is still being fought to save the Y-block, designed by Norwegian architect Erling Viksjø complete with fantastic mural artworks by Picasso (link), and in Tokyo the struggle is on to save what is still left, it’s already too late for the Birmingham Central Library, the bulldozers have moved in to demolish it. Work to strip the interior began in mid-January, and the building itself will be demolished in early February.

Photographer Eugene Keogh, used to study in this library, designed by architect John Madin (1924-2012), the man who gave the city of Birmingham a complete facelift in the thirty-year post-war period and who was responsible for its most important buildings, including the Birmingham Central Library, in 1974: an inverted concrete ziggurat, acclaimed by architect historian Nikolaus Pevsner as “the finest example of the post-war public buildings in Birmingham”.

Keogh knows the library intimately and love for modernist architecture shines through the photographs he has shared with us. These snapshots, not just of a city icon that polarised public opinion right from the start but also of a period in history that people seem to want to put behind them, to wipe out – and very quickly, at that.

Of course, everyone to their own taste, but the question that comes to the fore is: will the project for “Paradise Birmingham”, à la mode multipurpose centre, to be built on the site of the Brutalist library, be able to get emotions running as high as the Birmingham Central Library or become a city landmark? And why wasn’t it possible to refurbish and reuse the existing building, a twice-rejected idea also supported by English Heritage?

(Christiane Bürklein)

Birmingham Central Library, 1974-2015
Design by John Madin
Photos by Eugene Keogh, http://eugenekeogh.com/


Stay in touch with the protagonists of architecture, Subscribe to the Floornature Newsletter