We Made That’s extension to a south London library provides much needed space for the local community and entrepreneurs


Jakob Spriestersbach

We Made That has completed an extension to the East Street Library in south London. Commissioned by Southwark Council and the Greater London Authority, the project forms part of the ‘What Walworth Wants’ strategy, which is aimed at making significant improvements to the borough.


Occupying a prominent corner site, East Street Library is a well-used public qmenity that faced underinvestment ahead of long-term relocation proposals, says the architect. It was identified that much more could be achieved with just a little more space. The East Street Exchange extension allows the library to boost activity and host a range of new uses.

Ground floor plan. Key: 1 main library, 2 children’s library, 3 staff office, 4 study space, 5 extension, 6 upgraded kitchen, 7 upgraded toilet, 8 internal corridor; section; axonometric plan. Key: 1 main library, 2 study space, 3 extension, 4 upgraded facilities

Clad in corrugated aluminium and projecting out into the street from the existing 1960s building, the bright red extension stands out from its surroundings, suggesting the new functions contained within. It houses an affordable space for local businesses, entrepreneurs and community groups, as well as a much-needed flexible meeting area for local groups, the homework club and peer-to-peer language assistance.

At night, the perforated tower can be illuminated to create a beacon during out-of-hours use, making the project visible from Old Kent Road. A large corner window provides views out to East Street from inside. New signage wraps around the original frontage and large-scale painted letters appear on the flank wall.

Additional Images