Architectus’ work in transforming the State Library Victoria has seen them take home the Urban Design Award at the 2021 Melbourne Awards.

Entering its 19th year, the Melbourne Awards celebrate Melburnians who have dedicated a significant amount of time and energy towards the betterment of the city. 2021’s edition of the awards saw eight categories up for grabs that were identified by the governing body to reflect the way in which programs and organisations contribute to Melbourne as a thriving, forward-thinking capital city.

Architectus developed the State Library Victoria Vision 2020 Redevelopment in conjunction with Schmidt Hammer Lassen. The redevelopment saw the library play host to 40 percent more public space and 7- percent more seating and returned the library’s original reading room — the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall — to the Victorian public after laying dormant for 16 years.

state library victoria architectus

Architectus Principal, Ruth Wilson, says the practice endeavoured to futureproof the library, while remaining respectful of the institution’s rich history. 

“Working on the design of such a cherished and vital institution was immensely rewarding. Our design approach was to honour and reveal the original beauty of the heritage building while ensuring that the new spaces meet the needs of an expanding city and its future generations,” she says. 

The revitalisation project has seen a number of new spaces created and opened to the public, including a restored Swanston Street entrance, a world-class gallery space, Victoria Gallery, and a dedicated children’s area, the Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter. Many of the spaces have been deliberately exposed, with layers of paint purposely peeled off in order to showcase the original 1860s paint scheme, while original timber floors have been repaired. New elements implemented within the design feature robust qualities, with timeless elements such as timber ensuring the contrast between new and old isn’t a stark one.

state library victoria architectus

Consultation was a major part of the design process, with over 200 sessions held to ensure the project was developed in partnership with library staff and visitors. With nearly two million people visiting each year, the revitalisation cements the library’s status as one of Melbourne’s most loved cultural institutions.

To read more about the State Library Victoria Vision 2020 Redevelopment, click here.