Designed by Alsop and Störmer (the former partnership of architects Will Alsop and Jan Störmer), this library and community building opened to the public in March 2000. Later that year, Peckham Library won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture: ‘Building of the Year’.
Part of a wider programme of regeneration and community growth for that part of the borough, at the time of the library’s commission Southwark was the second most deprived council district in England, and Peckham was one of its worst areas. The library was planned to form one element in a new public square and aimed to attract people from deprived backgrounds to the world of books, learning and education by overturning preconceptions of how a library should look.
The building itself resembles an upside-down letter 'L': the architects took the site footprint and elevated a horizontal section several storeys into the air. This created a new public space beneath the over-hanging part, as well as relocating the quiet reading spaces within away from street-level noise. The cantilevered upper section of the structure is seemingly only supported by thin steel pillars, set at jaunty angles. The exterior, predominantly clad with pre-patinated copper, has brightly-coloured glass panels on the north-facing façade of the building, offering its users views of the ever-changing City of London skyline.
Peckham-based Sean O'Hagan is an Irish multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, as well as music producer and arranger for other artists, including Doves and Super Furry Animals.
In 1992, he founded the avant-pop band High Llamas, naming it after his first solo album since the demise of Microdisney (the Irish indie duo which he had formed in 1980 with Cathal Coughlan). High Llamas’ music – written and arranged by O’Hagan – reveals wide-ranging influences, from pre-1950s American pop and folk, and Brazilian jazz and bossa nova, to 1960s’ film scores and 1990s’ European electronic music. Their albums are also notable for frequent guest appearances by members of other bands for whom O'Hagan has played guitar.
O’Hagan is particularly known for his contributions to records by the English-French post-rock band Stereolab.