At old li­brary

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - So­cial Hous­ing -

the main lend­ing li­brary space, they con­ceal the new walls of the ground­floor apart­ments, ac­cessed via glass doors and a bal­cony walk­way, show­ing where much of the old build­ing has been de­mol­ished and new tim­ber cladding added.

The rear of the site is be­ing trans­formed into a walled court­yard gar­den, with the orig­i­nal gable walls hav­ing been re­tained to keep the B- listed struc­ture’s dis­tinc­tive sil­hou­ette and new fence de­signs in­spired by the Sun­ny­side name, il­lus­trat­ing a “new dawn for the build­ing”.

In­doors, the orig­i­nal stair­way and stained glass win­dows have been re­stored – but the his­toric read­ing rooms now look rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent.

A land­mark semi-cir­cu­lar win­dow is now the cen­tre­piece of an open­plan Coat­bridge li­brary’s for­mer up­stairs read­ing room has now been trans­formed into four of the flats, with this land­mark win­dow giv­ing views across the town liv­ing room and kitchen in one of the new flats, with Coat­bridge sky­line views span­ning from the tower blocks and road to Shaw­head, along to the rail­way bridge, Time Cap­sule and be­yond.

The neigh­bour­ing flats all make use of the read­ing room’s pre­vi­ously high win­dows – with the floor level of the prop­er­ties el­e­vated to trans­form the space from cen­tury-old study space into a new do­mes­tic set­ting.

Se­nior ar­chi­tect Matthew Hol­loway, of project ar­chi­tects Mast, said: “The level of the floors had to be raised to get the win­dows to a suit­able height. It’s made such a dif­fer­ence in open­ing up that view, and also in­creases the sound sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the prop­er­ties.

“The views are fan­tas­tic. You can see the spire of the old Dundy­van Church, which is by the same ar­chi­tect, Alexan­der Cullen.”

Each of the 12 new homes, set across the li­brary’s base­ment, ground, mez­za­nine and first floors, has a dif­fer­ent lay­out and de­sign to suit the nooks, cran­nies and struc­tures of the orig­i­nal build­ing.

Con­ser­va­tion spe­cial­ist ar­chi­tect Matthew added: “Usu­ally you’d de­sign one kitchen and one bath­room and use it 12 times, but this time it’s been dif­fer­ent kitchens and bath­rooms to work with the ex­ist­ing build­ing and its win­dows.

“We’ve cre­ated spa­ces that feel like flats, there are tra­di­tional sash and case win­dows, and it’s been nice to use and sup­port peo­ple with the tra­di­tional skills like restor­ing and re­pair­ing all the or­na­men­tal plas­ter­work.

“Build­ing the new stair­way be­tween all the lev­els was a real chal­lenge, and the bal­conies took some struc­tural gym­nas­tics, so it’s great to see how far it’s come and it’s been a lovely job to work on.

“The li­brary would have been lost if there couldn’t have been an­other use found for it but this is a great ex­am­ple of how new life can be found for these big, ro­bust old build­ings.”

It last closed its doors to the pub­lic in 2010 when the li­brary re­lo­cated to the Buchanan Cen­tre, and after us­ing the base­ment to store mo­bile li­brary stock, had lain en­tirely empty since 2012.

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil sold the build­ing to CVHA for £ 1 in 2015 and the ren­o­va­tion has seen its sand­stone ex­te­rior cleaned while in­side, the orig­i­nal stair­way tiles have been pre­served and a com­mu­nal area will dis­play pic­tures of the li­brary as it used to look.

With work en­ter­ing the fi­nal stages and CVHA now pre­par­ing for the planned open days and to be­gin let­ting out the prop­er­ties, John told the Ad­ver­tiser: “The flats are all gen­er­ous and dif­fer­ent in terms of lay­out and size. That quirk­i­ness is one of the at­trac­tions.

“As many of the orig­i­nal fea­tures as pos­si­ble have been pre­served, so we hope peo­ple will still recog­nise quite a lot.

“It’s been trans­formed very sym­pa­thet­i­cally, in or­der to be used for pub­lic hous­ing – it means the li­brary is pre­served and is go­ing to have longevity.”

Read all about it

Fea­ture The orig­i­nal stone stair­way has been re­tained and ren­o­vated

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