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    ​Learned architecture: Australia’s best new libraries for 2014

    Nathan Johnson

    Back in February, Hamilton Wilson of Wilson Architects described a new design focus needed for contemporary education architecture, one that re-engaged students to participate in flexible learning environments through built form.

    In 2014 we have seen a number of completed library buildings by Australian architects that endeavour to connect students back to the learning community that the library has traditionally inspired.

    Here are nine of this year’s best library projects by Australian architects.

    Emerald Hill Library & Heritage Centre, Victoria by Paul Morgan Architects

    Summary:

    The project involved the refurbishment and extension of the existing 1912 Beaux-Arts former Post Office. The brief for the project included expanded library spaces, children’s area, heritage centre, program spaces and outdoor play area.

    Features:

    • Bricks from both the original Beaux Arts building and the 1970s addition were reclaimed from demolition and re-used in construction for new walls and a sub-floor labyrinth.
    • Sub-floor brick labyrinth tempers air for efficient heating.
    • Occupancy sensors for equipment (including lights, A/V and HVAC).
    • Harvested rainwater used in garden irrigation and toilet flushing, and to minimise stormwater runoff from this largely impermeable site.
    • Hot water is gas boosted solar hot water to effectively minimise energy use.
    • All engineered wood products are certified E0 or better in terms of formaldehyde content.

    East Kimberley Development Package - Kununurra Community Library, Western Australia by Bateman Architects

    Summary:
    The $8.4 million Kununurra Community Library was designed for the joint use of the high school and Kununurra community and is located within the high school site on the corner of Coolibah Drive and Mangaloo Street.

    Features:

    • Strip windows extending the full length of the street elevation terminate in full height windows which wrap the corner into Mangaloo Street.
    • Heavily insulated walls and roofs and shaded windows to minimise energy consumption.
    • Robust and durable internal finishes.
    • Ethical furniture selections and products featuring recycle-able and/or recycled content.
    • Moulded Polypropylene furniture for easy maintenance and wipe-able surface without need for harsh cleaning chemicals.
    • Fabrics composed of recycled content – such as recycled wool and recycled polyester blends — were selected for the soft furnishings.
    • Low VOC and heavy metal free finishes were utilised where possible.

    Melton Library and Learning Hub, Victoria by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt)

    Summary:

    The brief was to provide a new contemporary library and community hub for the local community. Featuring a double height reading space, multiple community meeting, theatrette and multi-purpose training spaces, the project has a high environmental agenda and will provide a new central civic space for the people of Melton.

    Features:

    • First Library in Australia to achieve a Green Building Council of Australia Green star Rating, (5 Star Design Rating under the Public Building Pilot Tool).
    • The project achieved 70 points (five points shy of a 6 star rating), with environmental initiatives spread across all categories.
    • 95 per cent of the timber utilised was sourced from sustainable forestry and production processes and all engineered timber was E0 formaldehyde rated.
    • All indoor pollutants were minimised for all materials selected including paints, glues, sealants, vinyls and carpets.
    • Other ESD characteristics include passive solar design, maximised daylighting, high thermally performing facade and glazing systems taking advantage of the thermal resistance characteristics of the glue-laminated support framing. Under floor displacement air conditioning systems throughout provide increased outside clean air supply which reduces energy footprint. Rainwater recycling for irrigation and toilet and urinal flushing and 80 m2 of photovoltaic help offset the energy consumption of the building.

    Williamstown Library, Victoria by Sally Draper Architects in association with Mitsuori Architects

    Summary:

    Understanding of Williamstown as a unique place within Melbourne characterised by a strong sense of identity and community informed the design. It is contemplated not as a stand-alone building but as an integral part of its urban context.

    The library is conceived as two interlinked components. A softly curved translucent structure houses a double height reading room, whilst the ancillary spaces are within a rectilinear, bluestone wall. The bluestone is punctured by a series of deeply set openings acting as a threshold or filter between the cultural realm of the Town Hall precinct and the commercial areas to the east.

    Features:

    • Incorporated HVAC system designed to work seamlessly with the spaces and architecture of the building to minimise energy consumption.
    • A sub-floor labyrinth covers the entire footprint of the building and takes in outdoor air below deck level and filters it into the occupied spaces, providing passive cooling for much of the year.
    • High level extract vents in the main reading room combined with automated windows in the building spine serve to draw air from the plenum through the occupied spaces and provide natural cooling and ventilation to all areas within the building.
    • VRV system utilise the sub-floor space for distribution of conditioned air into the building while dampers in the sub-floor plenum close as the temperature rises. During cooler months when natural ventilation is not possible, heating is achieved through the use of hydronic in slab heating in the main reading room and supplementary air based heating in the ancillary spaces. The hydronic system warms the indoor air for the most part and is boosted when required by the VRV system.

    St Joseph's Nudgee Junior College Library, Queensland by Fulton Trotter Architects

    Summary:

    The St Joseph’s Nudgee Junior includes two wings housing teaching and staff spaces with a library space between.

    The wings reference the east west planning and strong brick forms of the original building, while the library space acts as a negative space between linking western play spaces to the river on the east.

    Its curved wall refers back to the original building’s curved glass art deco verandas, as well as the more recent curved outdoor teaching knuckle on the adjacent classroom building.

    The east west configuration of the main teaching spaces and staff spaces works well passively, along with generous overhangs and judicious window placement.
    The high main library roof provides ample daylight to the library interior bot controlled by wide overhangs and fritting to the upper glazing to reduce sky glare.

    Features:

    • Rainwater is collected for irrigation and amenities use.
    • Stormwater is treated in a bio retention basin, limiting polluted water entry to the adjacent river.
    • The building uses VRV air-conditioning but overhangs all round reduce heat load.
    • Generally, low VOC paints are used to improve air quality.
    • Old tennis courts on the site north of the building were retained and resurfaced as play spaces.
    • Existing trees were retained in both the courtyard and northern play spaces.

    Tamborine Mountain College Library, QLD by Fulton Trotter Architects

    Summary:

    The client’s brief was to create a space for their students to access their digital library, undertake quiet study or complete small group work on the ground floor, and a flexible space on the first floor that could be used for teaching a single class through to holding school assemblies. The current programming on the ground floor provides small library space and associated librarian station and two small learning group rooms.

    • Louvre windows provide cross ventilation and a large open area. They play a large role in helping natural lighting be filtered throughout the space and limiting artificial lighting.
    • Rainwater tanks are used for water use on site due to there being no town water. Toilets are connected to an onsite sewer treatment plant due to no connection to town sewerage.
    • No fill was removed from site which resulted in an equal cut and fill.

    Faith Lutheran College Library, Queensland by Fulton Trotter Architects

    Summary:

    The Faith Lutheran College Library completes the central ‘Information Hub’ precinct of the campus master plan. Sited adjacent to the recently constructed Language Centre, the connection between the two buildings was an important aspect of the brief, with external communal areas creating an expanse of high-volumed shaded spaces.

    The exterior spaces are lined with high level timber battening to produce shadows and welcome breezes in-between the two solid building forms. The interior Reading Room is separated from the exterior by two full height glazed walls at either end, with sliding panels of glass at low level to create a seamless transition from inside to out. Two building forms of lower height rest against the central Reading Room, one comprising the main entry, loans and staff areas, and the other, two General Learning Areas and a Senior Study room.

    Features:

    • Operable glazed wall panels offer natural ventilation at either end of Reading Room and high level louvres increase air flow.
    • Large overhangs and high level roof provide shade to facades and surrounding areas during the summer, whilst allowing sun penetration in colder months.
    • High level roofed structures and gardens between solid building forms promote shady, breezy corridors during warmer months.
    • Thermal insulation which exceeds minimum BCA standard requirements has been installed throughout. Tinted reflective glazing assists with heat reflection.
      The flexible floor plan with minimal fixed furniture allows for the spaces to be appropriated as users see fit.

    Helensvale Branch Library and CCYC, Queensland by Complete Urban and Lahznimmo Architects in Association

    Summary: 

    The City of Gold Coast engaged Complete Urban and Lahznimmo Architects to design the Helensvale Branch Library and Community Cultural Youth Centre (CCYC) in early 2010. The new facility replaces an existing library and includes a 2,400sqm library and a 1,500sqm youth centre, along with a regional council shop front and Councillor’s offices.

    This is a new type of facility for the council that combines both a library and youth centre in a single project. The design wraps the functions around a shared indoor plaza called the ‘Neighbourhood Room’, which is a naturally ventilated and lit space and the focus of the new building. It acts as an entry and address for each of the building functions, as well as vertically linking the three levels. Along one side of the outdoor plaza artist Belinda Smith has created ‘Faraway, Here’, a ceramic art wall that draws on analogies of open books and birds in flight.

    Features:

    • Mixed mode air-conditioning within the library allows the air-conditioning to be turned off when conditions are favourable.
    • Louvred windows and high level clerestories with motorized actuators are controlled by the building BMS, which monitors the outdoor environment.
    • Large low velocity ceiling fans supplement air movement and assist in creating a comfortable internal environment.
    • The Neighbourhood Room is fully naturally ventilated and lit, with large low velocity ceiling fans to supplement air movement.
    • Hot water is supplied by roof top solar panels.
    • Rainwater is collected in underground tanks within the car park and re-used.
    • A bio-retention basin at the northern end cleans excess stormwater from the site before entering the stormwater system.
    • Reduced car parking numbers reduced the building costs and excavation needs and minimise the urban impact of car parking. 

    Library Emmaus College, Queensland by Tony Madden Architects

    Summary:
    The College requested a building that embodies the school vision, principles and mission statements, and allowed for a space that was simple, clear and transparent. Students are free to enter and leave the Library without the need for security protocols.

    Clearly defined spaces cater for individual needs in terms of gathering information, with group study rooms for quiet study as well as open study areas and a lounge for a more informal and relaxed study environment.

    Features:

    • The building’s annual energy consumption was simulated using Energy Plus software in accordance with the requirements of Verification Method JV3.
    • The proposed building modelled with proposed building fabric and proposed services achieved an energy consumption of 25,375kwh/annum. The reference building set a target of 5,517kwh/annum.
    • Polycarbonate screens on the north westerly façade provide sun-screening while remaining trees and buildings on site allowed for the screens to start at a higher level and thus allow for clear views to the student hub area.
    • The use of VRV systems for air conditioning as well as individual controls to the various spaces in the facility enables efficient use of the air conditioning system.
    • Provision of fans and motorised high level louvres allows for natural ventilation and air flow when required.
    • The use of rainwater tanks for provision of water supply to toilets as well as irrigation when needed. 

    Images
    Source: The Australian Institute of Architects.

    Photographers in order of project: Peter Benetts, Robert Frith, Trevor Mein, Trevor Mein, John Mills, Angus Martin, Angus Martin, John Mills and Ricky England Phorography.

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