Winchester Discovery Centre, Hampshire, South East England

Project description

  • Hampshire County Council
  • Winchester City Council

Aims and objectives

The Discovery Centre was created to transform an existing community space and provide new opportunities for performance and creativity, enjoyment and participation in music and literature, as well as a range of activities and events for all age ranges and local groups in the community.

Learning is really at the heart of this development. Whether it is encouraging creativity or providing the opportunity to develop skills, the centre offers something for everyone.

Project Start Date and End Date

The project began in 2003 and was completed in November 2007.

Services offered

In addition to the library services, the Discovery Centre provides:

  • City Space - a specially designed exhibition space for local artwork and historical artifacts
  • Performance hall - which hosts a range of events including theatre, film screenings, dance and live music
  • Modern IT learning suite including free computer access and wireless internet
  • A range of learning courses including IT skills, photography and free CV writing lessons
  • A local history hub which offers a series of talks, workshops and other activities about local and family history

The library, which was originally an historic Grade 2 listed Corn Exhange building, provides free access to over 50,000 books. Free computer access and wi-fi is provided throughout the building.

Success factors

The Winchester Discovery Centre opened its doors for the first time in November 2007. In its first year of operation there were over 500,000 visits (November 2007-November 2008), a 55% increase on the previous library visits. Issues of books and other items also increased by 20% in the first year.

The project has won several awards celebrating its excellence in both design and purpose. In 2008 the Centre was awarded both the Sustainability Award and the Overall Award at the ICE (South Branch) Construction Awards. The building also received a Commendation at the Civic Trust Awards in 2009.

In October 2009 the centre was the winner of the prestigious Public Library Building Award for Architecture meets Practicality. The award recognises new or refurbished libraries of architectural interest which provide practical solutions to users needs- delivering the needs of a 21st Century public service.

Business/operational model

The centre was principally funded and managed by Hampshire County Council.  They also worked in partnership with Winchester City Council to fund and manage the City Space exhibition area.

Measurement and Monitoring

The success and progress of the Centre is measured in a number of ways including:

  • An increase in the number of people using the facilities
  • In house designed customer surveys in order to measure customer satisfaction
  • Online customer feedback review

Future developments

Contact details

Chris Edwards
Discovery Centre Programme
and Capital Projects Manager
Hampshire County Council