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Solutions: Canada Water Library, London Fresh thinking


Described as a ‘super library’ this new south-east London development offers a whole lot more than traditional establishments, including a space for live performances, writes Tom Bradbury

The £14 million development includes a live arts

performance area, café, and holds 40,000 books, CDs and films

(Pictures: Tim Crocker)

is an impressive and striking building, with artistic ambitions that take it way beyond the standard repository of books, CDs and IT services. Built over four floors that taper upwards in an inverted pyramid from the edge of the former Canada Dock, now a freshwater lake and wildlife refuge in Rotherhithe, Southwark Council’s £14 million investment is an integral part of the local community and popular with commuters who flock to the café for a quick cappuccino or lunchtime sandwich. Its live arts performance operations are run by a team from the nearby Albany Theatre in Deptford. Architect Piers Gough, of


CZWG Architects, told BBC News: “The brief was to put rather a large library on a rather small site. Hence we

44 IE April 2012

he new Canada Water Library in London’s south-east Docklands

designed a building that leans out in every direction so we are able to have one library floor above really quite a small footprint on the ground. It’s integrated with the Underground so the Tube station entrance is actually part of this building. You can come out of the Tube and borrow a book.” Stage Electrics was brought

in by electrical contractor Inviron, which in turn worked for main contractor ISG Jackson, to create a ground floor performance space to be used by a range of groups for a variety of projects. It needed to be a highly flexible space – a studio, in effect – for anything from art exhibitions to music concerts. Added to that, the massive dock doors, which open on to a courtyard, were to act as a proscenium for an audience sitting outside, with the studio forming the stage. The building’s ‘inverted

pyramid’ design, in which all

the walls slope outwards, with the cultural space at ground level, presented some unusual challenges in designing containment, facilities panels and drapery. Darren Beckley, Stage Electrics divisional sales manager – installation projects, comments: “As not one of the walls is square we created a unique fan-style lighting grid.” Moreover, the space had to

be well enough equipped to host a professional touring company’s performance and yet still be operable by people at all levels of technical experience from trainee upwards.

Versatile infrastructure Stage Electrics supplied lighting, audio, video infrastructure, mains power distribution infrastructure and communications systems. Both the technical and physical infrastructure were designed to provide maximum flexibility. The aforementioned

About the

installer . In operation for more than 30 years, Stage Electrics is a leading European supplier of sound and lighting equipment to the entertainment industry

. Around 250 employees work out of the Bristol, UK headquarters and six regional support offices

. Recent projects include installations in the education, public and house of worship sectors

fan-shaped lighting grid has internally wired bars that terminate to a central point and feature on-board data. Power can be hot-patched to anywhere in the venue, and

multiple facility panels allow routing of audio and DMX to virtually anywhere. The shared audio/DMX data distribution system includes video, allowing the client to add a video projector in future. A studio-wide Cat5e data

network carries DMX, ArtNet and other data as required, allowing for complete flexibility. To make this as user- friendly as possible, Stage Electrics designed and fabricated in-house a large bespoke lighting patchbay where the dimming terminates. The centre of this 1.2sqm

patchbay cover is graced by an engraved map of the lighting grid and surrounding facility panels, and in the corresponding positions around it are the PowerCon outlets that connect to various positions around the venue. Further equipment includes two Martin Atomic 3000 DMX strobes and Zero 88 Chilli dimmers.

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