A competition has been launched on behalf Gladstone’s Library to design a prestigious new £4.5 million building and re-develop the existing Grade I listed building.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will invite five teams with ‘exceptional design skills’ to take part in the contest following an an open pre-qualification round.
Gladstone’s is the UK’s only residential library and wants become the most significant tourist destination in North-East Wales.
It’s also Britain’s only Prime Ministerial library and the national memorial to the Victorian statesman, and four times Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone.
He founded the library in 1889 as a centre for debate, research and comment on the political, spiritual and cultural values he stood for.
The aim of the project is to create a visitor experience that will engage and inspire a broader range of audiences brining bring Gladstone’s legacy alive for the 21st century.
Gladstone’s also aims to increase physical and digital access to its collections and archive, create an exhibition on Gladstone’s Living Heritage and how his influence impacts today.
Peter Clegg, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and RIBA Adviser said:
“Gladstone’s library is a real National Treasure, celebrating as it does one of our greatest Prime Ministers whose contribution to democracy, religious tolerance and human rights needs to be better understood.
There is a tremendous opportunity for architecture to help facilitate this with the refurbishment of their grade I listed building and a new extension that will house an exhibition space and cultural hub. It deserves to be a truly amazing project.”
The visitor experience will be dedicated to three defining themes of Gladstone’s political career – human rights and genocide, the evolution of democracy and religious tolerance.
These themes will be the focus of a permanent exhibition and will form part of the Library’s future work and mission.
Peter Francis, Warden and Director of Gladstone’s Library commented:
“Gladstone’s Library is a victim of its own success. The present Grade I listed building was designed for books and a dozen guests. We are now, almost literally, bursting at the seams with over 20,000 visitors each year.
This project, therefore, answers an urgent practical need for more space and facilities in a building of equal eminence. On another level, Gladstone’s liberal values are needed in our increasing illiberal world.
What he has to say about the need for the evolution of democracy, the primacy of human rights and religious tolerance is depressingly topical. This project will help us to see Gladstone not only as a great statesman of the Victorian era but as our contemporary.”
The competition winners will design a new hall, catering facilities, reception, shop, office space, staff facilities as well as remodeling and repairing the existing Grade I listed building.
Work is scheduled to be completed between 2022/23