Library of Birmingham

A golden box containing gold SAS International SAS150 ceilings features at the new and improved Library of Birmingham.

Key features




Birmingham City Council


Mecanoo Architecten

Main contractor

Capita Symonds


Carillion Plc

Completion year


System type


Area M2



United Kingdom

Product Groups

Rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries, the new Library of Birmingham has become a catalyst for the economic and social regeneration of one of Britain’s most populous cities.

The circular pattern of the exterior metal framework is said to echo gasometers, tunnels, canals and viaducts which fuelled Birmingham’s industrial growth. The circles are also said to indicate the unification of different functions in the community.

Of the ten levels of the building, a golden box of secure archive storage will occupy two levels. Within these floors, the city’s internationally significant collection of archives, photography and rare books will be stored.

SAS International’s SAS150 ceiling tiles, in ‘strontium gold’ colour, have been used throughout the golden box, matching perfectly with the exterior.

Being a library, the acoustics of the metal ceiling were an important factor in the design.

The demand has been reached using an acoustic fleece backing.

To maximise the airflow from the building a larger perforation was necessary, on various tiles with no fleece behind, so as air could be extracted through the ductwork behind the ceiling.

Due to the public nature of the building, it is anticipated that there will be high footfall throughout, therefore durability is a requirement to reduce maintenance costs. SAS metal ceiling tiles are robust, resistant and easy to clean. The chosen SAS150 also allows for hinge down access as standard, tiles can pivot and slide among the suspension system allowing for easy access to services behind.

Birmingham Library has been praised for both its innovative design and positive social impact. The building has an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating and has won a number of awards including Project of the Year at Construction News Awards 2014, 3 RIBA regional awards and it was also shortlisted for the Stirling Prize.

Systems used