The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Buildings at risk

Holborn Library, London Borough of Camden

Status: Redevelopment plans shelved (2020)

Holborn Library was a milestone in the history of the modern public library, both as the first large, multi-functional, post-war library in London and for its pioneering architecture, with an elegant façade, striking entrance canopy and influential internal planning. Built in 1960 by the Holborn Borough Council Architects’ Department under Sydney Cook, the four-storey building has a reinforced concrete-frame and a non-load-bearing façade on Theobalds Road in narrow russet brick with a generous expanse of metal-framed glazing, which looks particularly striking when lit up at night.  A large galleried reading room,  reached by an open-tread staircase with a striking mosaic, has a zigzag metal and glass balustrade and timber rail, all adding to the light ‘Festival’ feel of the architecture.

C20 Society supported two applications to list the building in 2000 and 2010, both of which were turned down.  Plans are currently underway to remodel the library and redevelop this and a neighbouring site to include studio spaces and over 100 new homes. C20 Society is planning to object.

Buildings at risk

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