A traditional suburban TAFE library has been transformed into a thriving and dynamic student hub through a powerful refurbishment by Spowers’ architects and interior designers.

Spowers rose to the challenge of upgrading Holmesglen Institute’s 20-year-old Chadstone campus library recently, deploying a string of clever architecture and interior design strategies to modernise the space in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

The project team identified ways to efficiently allocate limited resources. How? By circumventing replacement costs for expansive materials like ceilings and flooring — opting instead to retain and reimagine existing structures and materials.

homesglen library spowers

The transformative design is headlined by a new entranceway — adorned with eye-catching glass fins in Holmesglen’s signature shade of turquoise. This simple yet striking façade hints at the buzzing environment that awaits inside.

Reuse and reimagine

From the outset of the project, Spowers Director and interior designer, and Holmesglen alumnus, Annie Robinson identified the potential of the library’s existing fit-out. “We undertook a rigorous assessment of all available assets,” Annie says.

“A lot of the fit-out and furniture was in very good condition, so we were keen to try and retain as much of it as possible. Of course, there’s a cost benefit to that approach but it’s also environmentally responsible because we’re not unnecessarily contributing to landfill!”

As the library’s book collection had been significantly reduced, in line with modern libraries’ growing digital footprints, Annie and her team repurposed all of the existing bookshelves. They were redeployed to segment a variety of spaces, such as those for group activities and independent study areas. The shelving was also recrafted to comply with current height requirements, then covered in laminate and fitted onto plinths to further enhance its appearance.

homesglen library spowers

Pavilion takes centre stage

The library’s original floorplan featured a central void, with tiered flooring that stepped down to meet the void, and elevated offices that overlooked it.

“We used that existing layout to our best advantage,” Annie explains.

“To enliven the significant amount of unused space within the void, and to make it feel more welcoming, we designed a pavilion that creates a central focal point that’s both eye-catching and highly functional.”

Carpeted in a turquoise shade, in line with Holmesglen’s branding, the pavilion adds a vibrant pop of colour to the library’s interior. Designed to be totally flexible, the pavilion can be completely opened or enclosed and used as an exhibition space, or to host visiting industry professionals. Sliding doors and acoustic panelling ensure privacy for groups using the space — which can accommodate up to 30 seated guests or students.

homesglen library spowers

Designers respond to student needs

Annie points out that student insights were key to the success of Spowers’ design. “At the beginning of the project, we engaged directly with Student Body representatives and asked them what would entice them to use the library more frequently?” Annie says. “We took those findings and incorporated them into our design.”

A games room — equipped with a large LCD monitor and bean bags for lounging — as well as a technology-free room for students to retreat and enjoy some downtime, offline, are among the student-inspired spaces within the library.

Evidence abounds of Spowers’ strategy to offer students a variety of spaces, to suit a myriad of personal preferences. Individual cubicles, booths for groups to congregate, and high benches for ‘perching’ laptops during short visits, are just some of the ways in which the design caters to diverse student needs. A dedicated training room and two recording rooms (equipped with acoustic insulation, cameras and microphones) round out the library’s impressive new facilities.

homesglen library spowers

Holmesglen Executive Director applauds design

Spowers’ design has exceeded expectations, according to Paul Culpan, Holmesglen Executive Director, Corporate and Commercial Services. “The library is now the heart of our Chadstone campus — a space that feels both inviting and invigorating,” Paul says.

“We are delighted Spowers identified innovative ways to deliver an affordable and sustainable design solution that complements both online and offline learning. The result is outstanding.”

The redevelopment of the Chadstone campus library was supported by the Victorian Government.