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Birmingham Central Library 2



New Birmingham Central Library

Andy Munro is a bold champion for Birmingham’s new central library, and believes the existing one should be bulldozed. Here’s the latest instalment in his spat with the conservationists – and specifically Andy Foster who called John Madin’s building “a great work of architecture”.

Dear Andy,

I had promised myself not to reply to any further correspondence on the Library on the basis it does not consume my life but I can’t resist it in view of the contents of your slightly acrimonious letter.

Firstly you may be an expert in things architectural but you completely miss the point. In my view, good architecture should do two things – internally a building should be designed in a way that makes it a pleasure to work in, live in, or visit and externally it should both add to the street scene by adding interest and enjoyment for the passer by….local community and visitor alike. Interest and enjoyment that doesn’t need to be teased out by some sort of subterranean architectural reasoning.

Unfortunately, the present building fails the test both internally and externally and I’m afraid your plea for me to ‘engage’ with the building makes what should be a simple task of enjoying it sound like some sort of ancient architectural fertility dance. The building is bluntly hard work in terms of enjoying the experience and with regard to ‘gliding and floating’ I have obviously not been on the right substances.

However, I would be happy to take up your offer of a tour but I don’t think that it would change my mind. By the way if you’re concerned about the Jewellery Quarter, I would also be very happy to buy you a pint and take you round to discuss what works architecturally and what doesn’t and perhaps see if your views accord with those of the local community and visitor groups that I take around.

Finally, on your rather pompous and disparaging point about ’Brummies’ and ‘matey anti- intellectualism’. Brummies have a reputation at being able to inject a bit of humour into proceedings and not being aggressive or pompous…and long may that continue in the land of free speech.

If you want to fix up that meet let me know.


Andy Munro


Andy Munro would like to point out that 'my views are personal and not those of the City Council'


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