The power behind a 21st century library

22/08/2013

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The Library of Birmingham will house the city’s collection of archives, photography and rare books. The library boasts ten storeys, several mezzanine levels, a basement level which includes an open air amphitheatre shared with the REP Theatre, a lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces.

The building has been designed by Dutch architect, Mecanoo Architecten and, in addition to holding the accolade of being the largest public library in Europe, it is arguably the most design-conscious too. Its tiered structure is festooned in decorative metalwork, while inside, the high black ceilings are a design feature that has required attention to detail across the whole specification in order for the scheme to remain true to the architect’s vision. That includes the electrical installation, which has involved the use of Legrand’s steel wire cable tray with a black powder coated lid installed underneath to allow the services to be hidden without actually being concealed.

The electrical installation for a building as large and complex as the Library of Birmingham was no small feat. Not only is the 35,000m2 building constructed to exacting design standards but, in addition to housing books and records, it also provides catering facilities, IT and internet access and temperature and humidity controlled environments to house the precious archives and collections. The contractor worked closely with the supply chain to manage the challenging build programme efficiently, ensuring the project handed over on time.

One of those suppliers was Legrand, and the company’s cable management business became a one-stop-shop for all the project’s cable trunking, ladder, perforated steel tray and steel wire cable tray requirements. Legrand worked closely with the contractor to deliver bespoke solutions that would help reduce time and labour requirements on site.

Neil Bullock, from Legrand’s cable management business unit, said: “We were able to troubleshoot on everything from big specification decisions, like using powder coated lids under the steel wire cable tray to obscure cabling, to specific installation requirements. We accommodated timed delivery slots and adapted the way in which product was packaged so that it could be taken straight off the vehicle on arrival at site and transported up to the required level via a crane or lift on a just-in-time basis.

“The speed of installation and practicality of the Salamandre trunking system was key to the specification of Legrand’s other cable management ranges throughout the library. Salamandre combines a robust solution with ease of use. The safety edge protects cables from snagging or cutting during installation, while the spring-loaded turnbuckle allows the lid to clip on quickly and securely saving time on site.”

Key Facts

The project: The Library of Birmingham

The solution: Legrand's cable management business became a one-stop-shop for all the project’s cable trunking, ladder, perforated steel tray and steel wire cable tray requirements delivering bespoke solutions that would help reduce time and labour requirements on site.