Library of Birmingham

Project details
Architect: Mecanoo
Contractor: Carillion
Client: Birmingham City Council

The BBA certified Sika Watertight Concrete system, one of many concrete solutions from Sika Limited, has been specified for the basement shell and the terrace decks on the £188m Library of Birmingham, the largest public library in the UK and one of the largest public cultural spaces in Europe.
The 35,000m2 project has seen the creation of a major new cultural destination that looks set to become a model for the future. Situated on Centenary Square it was designed by Delft-based architects, Mecanoo for Birmingham City Council and delivered by a team including main contractor Carillion and multi-discipline engineers Buro Happold. It is spread over 10 levels and comprises four box shaped structures that are staggered to create various canopies and terraces.  Strikingly, the exterior is clad with a filigree pattern of concentric metal rings over glass, silver and gold facades.
The Sika Watertight Concrete system complies with BS 8103:2009 Grade 3 for habitable areas where no water penetration is acceptable, an essential consideration for the basement area.  On the terraces, Sika Watertight Concrete was chosen as a secondary defence should the waterproof decking above become damaged and allow water to penetrate.  Bardon Concrete supplied 1,000m3 of Sika Watertight Concrete to the project.
The guaranteed Sika Watertight Concrete System offers a comprehensive solution in the waterproofing of concrete structures.  State-of-the-art Sika admixtures are added to the concrete to prevent water penetration.  The system is completed with carefully selected waterstops for construction and movement joints to produce a waterproof structure. 
The library, which has a BREEAM Excellent rating, houses over one million books in both an adult and children’s library, has more than 200 public access computers, a music room, theatres, cafe and an exhibition gallery.  Its most valuable books are copies of Shakespeare's First Folio and John James Audubon's Birds of America - worth between £6m and £7m each.