At old library
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.”
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Feature The original stone stairway has been retained and renovated