National Centre for Children’s Books Seven Stories

- Culture + Community

National Centre for Children’s Books: Building a lifelong love of storytelling

— CLIENT
Seven Stories

— SECTOR
Culture + Community

— SERVICES
Architecture
Heritage

— VALUE
£3.2m

— LEAD CONTACTS
Amrit Naru

Challenge

The National Centre for Children’s Books – or “Seven Stories” – is the only place in Britain dedicated to saving, celebrating, and sharing our rich literary heritage for children. We originally designed the centre in 2005, returning a decade later to refurbish it for a new generation.

The client chose a Grade II listed mill to house the centre. The mill was at risk of dereliction, and the project proved its saving – our challenge was to work within the natural constraints of the building, whose deep walls and small windows made creating well-lit, welcoming spaces a tricky problem.

Approach + Solution

The client bought a neighbouring workshop, allowing us to design a contemporary extension. This solved many of the access issues, as we could now house the entrance foyer, stairway, and lift outside of the mill. From the street, the extension is a creative, welcoming structure, with a design that mimics the torn pages of a book – sparking children’s imagination before they even enter the building.

Restoring a building at threat has a far lower impact on the environment than demolishing and rebuilding. We worked hard to keep this impact low throughout the project, using sustainable materials with low embodied energy, and working with local suppliers and tradesmen.

Seven Stories is a unique place that showcases the best of children’s literature and illustrations. We converted it sustainably for a very reasonable £3.2m – proving that good public architecture doesn’t have to cost the earth.

“ADP were completely engaged in our vision and its purpose… Seven Stories has become part of childhood for thousands of children from the North East and beyond, and has been successful beyond our hopes and dreams.”

– KATE EDWARDS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF SEVEN STORIES