Idea Store – Whitechapel

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I really like the name – Idea store.

The Tower Hamlets website advertises it as “the borough’s flagship library, learning and information service.” It was designed by Sir David Adjaye, opened in 2005 and shortlisted for the RIBA award in 2006.

It was a large square, blue and green glass, box like building but inside the light was nice and the spaces were welcoming. Although there’s a concrete ceiling and concrete pillars the hard-wearing red floor added colour and the wooden bookcases warmth.  The building is on five floors which are very accessible with wide spaces, a lift and toilets on every floor. Readers are encouraged the use the stairs and burn 4 calories per floor.

The opening hours are impressive – open til 9pm on Mondays-Thursdays, 6pm Friday, 5pm Saturdays and also open Sundays, 11-5pm.

It was packed with people studying on a February half-term weekday. Many people making use of the Learning Labs on each floor.

I was impressed that there were water coolers on every floor – part of the campaign to allow people to reuse bottles rather than having to keep buying more plastic. I liked the books display such as this valentines one in the picture above.

We stopped and had a snack in the cafe – which has impressive London views, the TV was on Sky News, there were sofas or tables and chairs. There was also a gallery space along one of the walls.

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