Case Study - Library of Birmingham

Demco Interiors

The Library of Birmingham - Demco

Designed by the multi-disciplinary, global architectural practice Mecanoo, the RIBA award winning Library of Birmingham (2013) sits between Graham Winteringham’s RIBA award winning Reparatory Theatre (1971) and T Cecil Howitt’s grade II listed Baskerville House (1938) in the largest public square in Birmingham, UK

The Library of Birmingham

The 35,000 m2 library comprises adult and children’s libraries amongst many other forms of shared learning spaces. Rug Couture were invited by leading design and FF&E company Demco Interiors to quote for the provision of a modular set of rugs for the children’s library which is located below street level on the libraries lower ground floor.

'We required a number of custom made wool rugs for the children's section of the Library of Birmingham. After speaking with a number of custom rug specialists, we decided to use Rug Couture who we found to be a very friendly, helpful and above all a professional company who helped us every step of the way.'

Vivien Low, Lead designer
Demco Interiors
Birmingham Library Custom Rugs

The Children’s Library on the lower ground floor.

As a public space, budget and timely delivery were major points of consideration. After initial consultation with our Sales Director, Demco specified a set of hand tufted, Pure Wool rugs from our HT2 range which afforded all the natural benefits of Pure Wool and a comfortable, yet economical pile depth of 12-14mm within our rapid hand tufted 6 week timescale.

'Rug Couture answered all of our questions, which helped to ease our concerns and they even provided us with artwork allowing us to see how the finished rugs would look, even before they were put into production.'

Vivien Low, Lead designer
Demco Interiors

Wool is naturally 30% more stain resistant than even the best synthetic fibres due to the coating of light wax on each fibre. Wool is springy and its fibres can be stretched by more than 35% and still easily return back to their natural shape, which means that wool rugs will last for many years without showing signs of wear and tear.

A Wool rug is an incredibly healthy choice of floor covering as wool doesn't give off the harmful toxins known as VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds), which are released from synthetic fibres. The backing of our rugs and any adhesives also meet stringent VOC standards. It is also non-allergenic and does not promote the growth of bacteria and dust mites making it a healthy choice especially around young children.

Importantly for a project like the BREEAM Excellent Library of Birmingham, Wool is an incredibly sustainable floor covering material as it is produced by sheep fed on pastures fuelled by sunlight. This is reflected in the amount of energy it takes to produce Wool, which is about 1/8th of that used in the production of Nylon.

'Upon completion we were very happy with the rugs, which have made an excellent and eye catching addition to the children's section of the library. We would happily recommend Rug Couture to anyone looking for a bespoke rug.'

Vivien Low, Lead designer
Demco Interiors

Two modular sets of four rugs were produced which incorporated a sunny colour scheme of yellow and orange and three child friendly abstract designs featuring a circular motif, heart and flower. All were produced to the same size and specification so library staff could combine them in different ways to create zones of activity.

Custom rugs in children's library

Some of the modular, hand-tufted Pure Wool rugs in use in the children's library.

Library of Birmingham - 'The People's Palace'

Blurring the distinction between the space of the street and the indoor space beyond, the ‘People’s Palace’ greets visitors with a massive cantilevered volume, taking visitors under it’s protection as it invites them to discover what lies within. A tantalising first glimpse of this is offered via the protected circular courtyard, cut out of the street level square, in front of this majestic entrance. The courtyard, while allowing daylight in, also tempts visitors with a view into the wondrous space of learning, information and possibility deep within the building. The circular theme is more immediately apparent on the surface of the building, with a filigree of overlapping silver and black aluminium circles, mounted 90cm from the cladding, whose effect has been compared to Louis Vuitton’s ‘broderie anglaise.’ Visible from some distance they visually honour the areas rich history of craftsmanship particularly that of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The cladding itself is alternating blue and gold with a gold clad 60m drum housing John Henry Chamberlains relocated Shakespeare Memorial Room (1882) left plain to glint in the sun and announce the presence of this gift to the city. Inside visitors navigate the internal space through interconnected and overlapping rotundas that offer ventilation and natural light while being rewarded with stunning views across the square all framed by the delicate metalwork outside


  • Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design - Civic Trust Award 2015
  • Stirling Prize nomination 2014, RIBA National Award 2014
  • RIBA West Midlands Building of the Year 2014
  • RIBA West Midlands Regional Award 2014
  • Architects' Journal Building of the Year 2013
  • Commendation for significant contribution to Town Planning in the West Midlands by Royal Town Planning Institute 2011

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