International architectural practice Buchan created a community-centric design for the new Ipswich Central Library and Tulmur Place, adding new life to the city’s historic CBD.

Imagined as a centrally located, culturally expressive and inclusive space for the local community, the design of the new library and civic plaza in Ipswich references the surrounding natural and built context, with Buchan’s architectural and masterplanning approach drawing from a rich and diverse history, and layering new elements to encourage engagement.

A lushly green and enjoyable pathway promotes safe passage while also providing enriching public amenity that caters to the diverse cultural audience. Additionally, specialised lighting and a light-art façade animate the space further.

The rigorous architectural, masterplanning, interiors and brand experience approaches undertaken by the Buchan team aimed to ensure a considered understanding of context, explained Buchan principal Gerry Holmes.

“We were mindful of the need for ample vegetation, integrated seating, shade structures and water elements to combat the heat; the façade faces west, and there were concerns about reflections, we abated these through the façade blades and the application of specific colours and resulting dappled shade.”

Ipswich’s high predicted growth rate for young local families was also factored into the design by Buchan. “Part of our intention was to create an enduring and thriving civic park for the city, one that focuses on engagement and promotes a healthy community,” Buchan associate Katrina Tolhurst said.

“The Library opens onto Tulmur Place where there are water features for interaction, places for people to sit out on the lawn and in the shade under pavilions, which integrates the culture and surrounding workforce together in the one space,” Holmes noted.

Nature served as inspiration for Buchan’s design with the forms observed in both plan and elevation following organic shapes, encouraging greater cohesiveness within the space.

The materiality also responds to the natural environment, encouraging a sense of movement and influencing the design of the library.

“The combination of metallic elements, with water, reflections and natural textures create a balanced and responsive environment, specific to the climatic conditions,” Tolhurst added.

Located in a neighbourhood that’s home to residents from 163 different countries, the Ipswich Central Library and Tulmur Place focussed on ensuring the needs of the local community were met in both functionality and design.

The 2,200sqm Ipswich Central Library and 15,000sqm Tulmur Place were designed by Buchan for the Ipswich City Council, with project stakeholders including Hutchinson Builders (construction), Ranbury Management Group (project management) and Vee Design (landscape).

Photography: Buchan, Angus Martin