The Living Heritage Competition

News release: 6th March 2018 

Design team sought for Gladstone’s Library – Living Heritage Competition in North Wales 

RIBA Competitions is pleased to announce the launch of a competition on behalf of Gladstone’s Library to design a prestigious new building and re-develop the existing Grade I listed library and landscape. 

William Ewart Gladstone (1809 – 1898) was the single most significant political figure of the Nineteenth Century. He founded the library in 1889 as a centre for debate, research and comment on the political, spiritual and cultural values he stood for. 

The client would like to develop the Library in order to promote wider engagement with the liberal values that lay at the heart of Gladstone’s life and work. The new building must be complementary to, but quite different from, the Victorian library building; a flexible, contemporary space will enable the expansion of the public programme including lectures and debates. 

The aim is to create a visitor experience that will engage and inspire a broader range of audiences. It will be dedicated to three defining themes of Gladstone’s political career that have exceptional contemporary resonance – human rights and genocide; the evolution of democracy; religious tolerance. These themes will be the focus of a permanent exhibition and will form part of the Library’s future work and mission. 

Peter Clegg, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and RIBA Adviser said:

'Gladstone’s library is a real National Treasure, celebrating as it does one of our greatest Prime Ministers whose contribution to democracy, religious tolerance and human rights needs to be better understood. There is a tremendous opportunity for architecture to help facilitate this with the refurbishment of their grade I listed building and a new extension that will house an exhibition space and cultural hub. It deserves to be a truly amazing project.'

Peter Francis, Warden and Director of Gladstone’s Library commented:

'Gladstone’s Library is a victim of its own success. The present Grade I listed building was designed for books and a dozen guests. We are now, almost literally, bursting at the seams with over 20,000 visitors each year. This project, therefore, answers an urgent practical need for more space and facilities in a building of equal eminence. On another level, Gladstone’s liberal values are needed in our increasing illiberal world. What he has to say about the need for the evolution of democracy, the primacy of human rights and religious tolerance is depressingly topical. This project will help us to see Gladstone not only as a great statesman of the Victorian era but as our contemporary.'

It is anticipated that five teams will be shortlisted and invited to participate in the design phase of the competition. An equal honorarium of GBP £4,000 (+VAT) will be paid to each of shortlisted teams.  

In the first instance, applications are invited in accordance with the requirements set out in the Briefing information and accompanying Selection Questionnaire, which is available from www.ribacompetitions.com/gladstones

Please note this competition is now closed.

For more information please contact RIBA Competitions at RIBA.competitions@riba.org.