Canada Water Library, London

Client: Southwark Council
Architect: CZWG Architects
Main contractor: ISG Jackson
Products: MX SSG structural sealant glazing, MX visible grid curtain walling, MX top hung concealed vents, PXi doors, CD commercial doors


Technal’s glazing systems were specified by CZWG Architects for Southwark Council’s iconic new ‘super library’ in Canada Water, London.


Spearheading an ambitious programme of regeneration, Canada Water Library resembles an inverted ‘ziggurat’ – a terraced pyramid of successively receding storeys – that partly overhangs the Canada Water basin.



Recessed Curtain Wall Screens


The £14m building sits at the edge of a new civic plaza and a stretch of open water. Its expanding pyramid form integrates a compact footprint at ground level with progressively wider floors above.  The building is clad in light bronze anodised aluminium panels with sequined perforations, interspersed with recessed curtain wall screens.  This design gives the scheme a sculptural appeal and a striking visual effect, symbolising ‘the crown jewel to the new plaza’.



Less Visible Aluminium


Finished in bronze anodised aluminium, the MX SSG structural sealant glazing and CD commercial doors have been specified for the ground floor. MX Visible Grid is being used for the strips of curtain walling to the three upper floors, with MX top hung concealed vents and PXi doors providing access to the balconies.


MX SSG is a flush curtain walling option which meets specifiers’ requirements for less visible aluminium and clear expanses of glass.


The curtain walling is complemented by FXi65 tilt/turn casement windows used as ‘punched hole’ openings set into the cladding.



A New Phase of Regeneration


This new library forms part of a vibrant quayside for Canada Water – a historic Docklands area that was once a bustling port.  It was designed to ‘exemplify the importance of the library, education and community facilities for local people and to provide a focus for a new phase of regeneration.


It accommodates a café, performance space, popular book section and staircase to the Underground station on the ground floor.  A mezzanine level provides staff work rooms and offices and a void over the performance area with tiered seating.  The floor above features meeting rooms and two large learning facility rooms. A central skylit staircase rises from the ground floor to the galleried library level.


The Canada Water Masterplan was created by master developers BL Canada Quays in conjunction with Southwark Council and includes around 900 new homes, as well as retail, community and public spaces.



Strong Environmental Credentials


The Canada Water Library has strong environmental credentials, with ground source heat pumps, grey water harvesting, energy efficient M&E services, and an extensive green sedum roof.  The canted east and west elevations allow winter sun to warm the building and provide a high degree of solar shading for the glazing in the summer, minimising glare.  The scheme has achieved a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating.



The Architect’s Perspective


Anna Ifanti, Associate, CZWG Architects:


“The Technal team was very responsive at specification stage and their input in the design and choice of glazing options was helpful and valuable.  We needed the façade systems to be robust, lightweight, have slim frames and to meet the required U values, which the Technal products were able to deliver.  We are very happy with the end result.”


Piers Gough, Partner, CZWG Architects:


“The building celebrates its brilliant location on a new public square, next to a bus and tube station and overlooking Canada Water basin. The library is an indoor public space open to everyone, where you find wonderful things you weren’t necessarily looking for. It is a futuristic Pandora’s box of possibilities.”



The MX Curtain Walling Suite


Technal’s MX aluminium curtain walling suite provides architects and contractors with a wide range of design options from a single grid system – for simplified specification, fabrication and installation; consistent quality; cost efficiency, and reduced time on site.  The variations include:


  • MX Visible Grid – for a more conventional ‘grid’ appearance
  • MX Trame – where the vertical or horizontal profiles are accentuated
  • MX SSG – structural glazing for flush glass façades with visibly less aluminium
  • MX BG  – which uses an externally beaded frame for a ‘picture frame’ appearance
  • MX Sloped Glazing – for sloped roofs, atria, canopies, valleys and pyramids, which are visually consistent with vertical façades
  • MX Acoustic – an option for MX Visible Grid and MX Trame Horizontale for applications where additional acoustic performance is required.