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Winchester Discovery Centre

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Winchester Discovery Centre is the flagship project for Hampshire County Council’s library rejuvenation scheme. The project restored and extended a Grade II* Corn Exchange to provide a library, gallery, performance hall and café. The design needed to widen the appeal of a library, encouraging members of the community who would not normally visit and enabling a range of cultural activities and performances to suit all tastes. This forward-looking vision needed to be accommodated without diminishing the listed building’s heritage.

The original layout was incorporated into the new design but with contemporary elements. For example, a new mezzanine floor follows the line of the original circular courtyard centrepiece. The new performance hall and art gallery are to the rear of the development, so they do not dominate the listed building. A new stone and glass wing containing library space and a café forms one side of the building. The rear wall of the new wing, covered by a vast embroidery by Alice Kettle, is top lit to help increase the transparency of the front facade.

The Discovery Centre is now used by a much more diverse cross-section of the local population as it plays host to exhibitions, dance classes, comedy nights, conferences as well as the traditional uses of a library. The café offers a relaxed and informal atmospshere for the building users and the new glass fronted extension gives an more open and inviting view of the Discovery Centre to passers by – it has become a new public place for Winchester.

Key Benefits

  • A modern facility within an historic building.
  • A building fit for purpose which is now attacting substantially more visitors than prior to the renovation.
  • A community focused building with many uses including an exhibition space, a lecture theatre and the traditional borrowing library.
  • An innovative design that raised the profile of the library and created a talking point for local people.
 

Project details

Location
Winchester, Hampshire

Client
Hampshire County Council

Value £7.25m

Completed: November 2007

Awards
RIBA Award 2008

Public Library Building Awards - category 'Architecture Meets Practicality'

City of Winchester Trust Design Awards 2010 - Refurbishment and Alteration to an Existing Building

City of Winchester Trust Design Awards 2010 - Public Art

Specialist Contact

Alec Gillies

Architectural Design Manager

01962 847801

email alec.gillies@hants.gov.uk