The Idea Store Whitechapel is located on Whitechapel Road, a busy high street in Tower Hamlets, east London. This is the largest of seven such Idea Stores – community facilities combining library and educational space – planned to replace the borough’s faltering traditional libraries. The site is in a bustling retail area. A large, daily street market runs along the high street and is partly sheltered beneath the overhanging structure. The building’s five-storey glazed facade is boldly striped, alternating laminated green, blue and clear glass in an amplification of the striped awnings of market stalls below. A horizontally tapered atrium suspended from the roof’s cantilevered I-beams hovers over the southern pavement at a one-storey height. An escalator inside in this atrium provides access to the first and second floors and two central staircases provide additional access to all floors. The building employs passive cooling devices and an air circulation system under the floor. In addition to its self-service library, the 4,645 m² (49,998 sq ft) Idea Store contains classrooms, a café, Internet stations, a dance studio, a crèche and an alternative therapy centre. Throughout, the building’s structural columns and beams – combining in situ and precast concrete elements – remain largely exposed. The dance studio and holistic treatment centre, set atop ground-floor offices, are at the rear. The northern facade facing the supermarket car park is clad in grey and black aluminium.
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