Cathays Library

1907 – Cardiff, Wales. Lat/Long 51.497222 -3.181944

Cathays Library, which has been recently refurbished, is the first example of a “butterfly” plan used in a Carnegie Library in the UK. The symmetrical plan-form, also known as a “sun-trap” plan was popularised through the domestic architecture of the Arts and Crafts movement. It is applied to the library here to admit as much light and air as possible to each of the public reading rooms. Following a domestic precedent, the central entrance embraces its visitors to visit the library and suggests they behave as if welcomed into a house.

Although an L-shaped plan had been used previously at Kingston-upon-Hull (1905), Cathays is the first and one of the best examples of a fully symmetrical butterfly arrangement. Set at 45 degrees to the road intersection in front of it, the library placement introduces Garden City planning principles to its immediate surroundings.

Architects: Speir & Bevan of Cardiff.

Heritage designation: LG II*, 1975. Purpose built library; Carnegie grant: £5,205 26/08/1903 and 16/9/1907.   Open library, council managed.

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