Southwark Heritage Centre & Walworth Library
Southwark, London, 2019–21

A new library and heritage centre in a dense, mixed-use city block in Elephant Park, a large scale development in south London.

We were appointed to develop designs for a new library and heritage centre for Southwark Council in a joint venture with Lendlease. Embedding the Cumings Museum’s collection in a new local library provides a generous, useful public space on the high street, a major component of Elephant & Castle’s regeneration.

The two public institutions are co-located on the ground floor of a dense residential-led, mixed-use scheme to create an essential piece of social infrastructure. A new public front door and welcome mat on Walworth Road invites visitors in from the High Street.

We designed a series of public events that captured the existing needs of the local community, explored new uses in the space and celebrated the birth of a new civic place.

We codesigned the space and displays with librarians, curators and local residents.

The library and heritage centre provides more ways into creative learning by integrating culture services. It provides a community lounge, children’s library, digital technology and generous space for study along with an event space to support a programme of community activities.

The new civic centre creates galleries that support a temporary exhibitions programme and tell the unique story of Southwark.

Displays with items from the borough’s diverse heritage collection are integrated into the new library's book stacks, allowing contemporary uses to be enriched by local heritage.

A room lined in cooper creates a digitally silent space, based on the concept of Faraday's cage invented by local inventor Michael in 1836.

The project combines communities and collections to support democratic discourse and a healthy civic society.

Invited Design Competition. First Prize. Built.

Southwark Heritage Centre & Walworth Library is part of the mixed use scheme, Orchard Gardens, shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2022.

Lendlease & Southwark Council

145–7 Walworth Rd, Southwark, London SE17 1JL

Architect & lead consultant

Graphic Designer

Structural Engineer

MEP Engineer & Sustainability

Acoustic Consultant
Sandy brown

Gardner & Theobald


Lord Consultants