‘Library at The Dock’, a new library and community centre by Clare Design and Hayball in the heart of Docklands, Melbourne, officially opened on Saturday, marking the nation’s first public building to be made from cross laminated timber (CLT).

Located on the waterfront of the Victoria Harbour, this method of construction – along with a range of other sustainability features – has also led the $23 million library to be awarded Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star rating for a public building.

CLT is manufactured using layers of timber to create solid panels, and is 30 per cent lighter than traditional structures. This has significantly reduced the requirement for new foundations, and allowed for construction of the library right on the waterfront. The history of the 75 year old wharf has furthermore been preserved, serving as the building’s substructure.

“Using engineered timber enabled the building to be located right on the waterfront – just eight metres from the edge, as it minimised remediation works on the existing wharf structure,” says Andrew Nieland, Head of Timber Solutions, Development, at Lend Lease.

Apart from benefitting site and construction conditions and reducing the building’s overall carbon footprint, CLT offers better thermal performance and requires less energy to heat and cool than other materials.

The building’s passive design also promotes natural ventilation, daylight and fresh indoor air quality, resulting in reduced energy consumption, and a healthier indoor environment.

Other sustainability initiatives include a 55,000 litre tank in the nearby Victoria Green Park which collects water for reuse, and 85kw solar panels on the roof which will supply a third of the building’s operational power. At the same time, the third floor features an indoor/outdoor wintergarden with an artificial turf and operable façade and roof.

The façade consists of recycled Ironbark and Tallowwood timber, which complements the promenade decking. This decking is made from reclaimed timber from the Victoria Harbour south wharf.

“Library at The Dock is an exceptional example of why we must make sustainability everyone’s business. When we build these spaces green, we are building greener attitudes and a greener future,” says chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, Romilly Madew.

As well as digital and traditional library collections, the three storey library and community centre offers a recording studio, editing suites, and a gallery and exhibition space that recognises Docklands’ heritage.

The project is a joint initiative of the state government developer Places Victoria, Lend Lease and the City of Melbourne. It is part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s Docklands Community and Place Plan aimed at making Docklands one of Australia’s most liveable suburbs. 

Photography by Diana Snape