The Forum, Norwich

The Forum was the millennium project for the East of England and was to be a fitting landmark for the millennium in the heart of Norwich city.

Works began in May 1999, on the site of the previous Norwich Central Library which was devastated by fire in 1994. The building opened to the public in November 2001 and was officially opened by the Queen on 18 July 2002 as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The building was designed by Sir Michael Hopkins and constructed by R G Carter Drayton.

Built on adjoining sites The Forum creates a complete block surrounded by the City Hall, the Theatre Royal, Assembly Rooms and the Church of St Peter’s Mancroft.

The main section forms an enclosing horseshoe made from handmade load bearing bricks with several windows. The eastern end of the building has a full, 15 metre high, glazed wall which opens to the Gothic church tower of St Peter’s Mancroft and the city.

The roof comprises six leaf arch trusses with zinc on top of a structural decking, in-filled with glazing bars and toughened glass.

The building is designed to take advantage of the thermal mass of concrete, thereby reducing energy consumption.

The Forum contains a library, multi-media auditorium, local visitor and business centres, a heritage exhibition and shop, bar and restaurant and local BBC station.

Traditional hand-made bricks and special mortars contrast with exposed concrete pillars and soffits which make up the framework of the three-storey building. Below are two levels of basement car-parking with space for up to 240 vehicles.

The building won a number of awards such as the urban design award from 2003 civic trust awards and best structural use of brick from the 2004 BDA brick awards.