The Forum history

A wide shot over Norwich Market of The Forum, a modern glass and red brick building and the spire of St Peter Mancroft Church.

The Forum is built on the site of the old Norwich Central Library which was devastated by fire in 1994, destroying many books and precious documents and forcing its closure. 

Before the build began on The Forum, extensive archaeological investigations were carried out by Norfolk Archaeological Unit, with some exciting discoveries being made. 

The site lies at the heart of an area known in the Middle Ages as the French Borough. The Borough was established as a colony of French traders after the Norman Conquest, between 1071 and 1075. 

The Forum site was the first major site to be excavated in the Borough and enabled historians to learn more about the development of the western part of the historic centre of Norwich. 

The Forum was designed by the award-winning architect, Sir Michael Hopkins.

The Forum is conceived as a courtyard surrounded by a three storey, horseshoe-shaped enclosure of load-bearing brickwork, which accommodates the various activities on a series of balconies. 

The courtyard roof is supported by bow-string steel trusses forming leaf shaped panels, infilled with acoustically absorbent material or glazing. Light enters into the heart of the building, creating a dynamic public Atrium. 

The key sustainable strategy is the use of the building mass as a 'passive' environmental modifier and the introduction of 'active' building engineering systems, only to assist the fabric to recycle ambient energy. 

Its spectacular glazed end wall frames the Gothic church tower of St Peter Mancroft, welcoming the city in, and forming a major public space in the forecourt. 

The Forum opened to the public in 2001, was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 2002 and celebrated its 10th birthday in 2011.