The new Fitzroy Library and Community Hub is the first Victorian mixed-use public building to achieve a 6-star Green Star Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).
The Fitzroy Library and Community Hub is a multi-use space that includes a library, maternal child health facilities, and a variety of other community-focused facilities. It is also home to the City of Yarra’s International House.
The building has been named ‘Bargoonga Nganjin’, meaning ‘Gather Everybody’ in Woiwurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people.
According to Scott Francis, principal of architects GroupGSA, the need to create a socially inclusive space with a focus on minimising the building’s environmental footprint and integrating it with the existing local context was central to the design strategy.
“The local people of North Fitzroy are an educated community that wanted to see a really robust sustainable outcome,” says Francis.
“We put the effort in to ensure all avenues were looked at, from energy use to the lifecycle of the building, materials, orientation and water usage, all of those things. We wanted to maximise the sustainable outcome of the building.
The potential for environmental design to draw people together is exemplified by the library’s lush rooftop garden, according to Francis.
“Featuring native plants and a productive garden, this area provides more than simple green respite on the site’s narrow footprint,” he says.
“It has a cleverly integrated catchment system, positioned underneath the roof decking, which collects water to sustain landscaping as well as essential services for the whole building. Herbs and fruit trees on the roof supply the adjoining community kitchen, with students encouraged to pick things from the garden to use in cooking classes.”
Another key to the success of the project is its grounding in the architectural language of the neighbourhood, with its triangular site taking inspiration from the old North Fitzroy post office building.
The community building features a bespoke screening mechanism, which became an integral part of the building’s external fabric, to manage glare and natural light. The perforated metal screens allows light to filter in and out, the design of which is derived from the trees in the Edinburgh Gardens, just immediately south of the site - using the local elements as a key to inform the design.