The Wigan Life Centre Library is part of a larger PFI project consisting of two buildings and two new piazzas either side of Wigan Town Hall, to create a new civic quarter in the heart of the Wigan Town Centre Conservation Area.
This 5,358 m2 Information and Learning Zone Facility features a One Stop Shop for Council Services, a Library and the Council’s Property Shop and Neighbourhood Zone offices.
The new facility is built on a former car park and fronts onto an extending piazza incorporating the existing “Wiend”. This is an area of public open space, created in the early 1970’s following the clearance of a dense maze of buildings, including remnants of some of the town’s oldest street patterns.
This glass fronted, steel framed building sits behind the retained facade of the listed Municipal Buildings to its other principal elevation facing Wigan Town Hall. Separated by a glazed light-well, the new building lightly touches the old. This deliberate move has allowed the modern and the historic site to sit side by side.
The design exploits the level difference across the site. The public entrance off Wiend Piazza brings visitors into the building at first floor level and principally serves the One Stop Shop. The entry at ground floor from Hewlett Street, and through the retained facade is at first floor level in the building, and is the principal entrance for the Library. The building is largely open plan and is light and airy, and although on four floors, including a Library mezzanine, the levels are interconnected by a glazed atrium providing good natural light throughout. Glazed handrails around the voids enhance the feeling of openness.