According to architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt), the design of the new Craigieburn library was originally conceived to be a series of interlocking pavilions of varying height.
Set in Craigieburn in the Hume local government area and part of one of Australia's fastest-growing and most culturally-diverse communities, the area sits in Melbourne’s northern fringe, just 15 kilometres from the CBD.
The city of Hume is built around the established suburbs of Broadmeadows, Tullamarine and Gladstone Park in the south, the developing residential suburbs of Craigieburn, Greenvale and Roxburgh Park in the north-east and the Sunbury township in the north-west.
Completed in 2012, the library design has won admiration and applause from both close and afar and services a growing local community.
As a way of blending into its surrounds, says fjmt, the building was conceived as a series of interlocking pavilions of varying height and scale that step down from the entrance and a two-storey, central library reading space to the low scale of the children’s library. Each pavilion extends into the landscape through louvred roofs that create a series of northern verandahs.
The cruciform circulation through the building ties these functions together in a highly legible, simple geometry. The primary reading room consists of a double-height volume with ample access to natural light, with reading areas positioned along the glazed northern façade, protected by high-level, directional roof louvers.
Intended to provide a warm, friendly and sustainable facility that invites residents and visitors to utilise the new cafe, gallery and meeting spaces, the library also features an array of external shaded courtyards, made as a perfect sanctuary for Melbourne’s hot and dry late summer months.
Set across 4640sqm, the project sets a high sustainable agenda for the community and has utilised locally sourced earth as the primary building material.
The native vegetation and indigenous materials of this landscape are being replaced with imported brick, concrete and tiles that characterise new housing development. In contrast, the project utilises locally sourced earth as the primary building material, establishing a high-sustainable, green agenda and setting a new benchmark for the growing township of Craigieburn,” says to fmjt principal Geoff Croker.
This has resulted in a unique design that features rammed earth walls, which says the architects, wrap the earth of the site around the lightweight verandah-like pavilions to eventually open out to an extended landscape.
According to Croker, “We envisaged the project to become the built focus of public life for the Craigieburn community and sought to connect the architecture with the landscape that is being rapidly transformed by residential expansion.”
“The lightweight steel and timber-trabeated roof structures are complemented by the heavy rammed earth walls that form the enclosure and connect the building with the earth it sits on,” says Croker.
"The feedback I've had is about how warm and inviting the atmosphere is at the Hume Global Learning Centre. I just love how striking the architectural design of the building is. It provides a wonderful balance of warmth and light, and shows how much libraries have changed over the years,” says Hume Mayor Councillor Ros Spence.
Going further afield, the project won the International Public Library of the Year Award, award by the Danish Agency for Culture in 2014.
“The library is a key public building for Craigieburn, and will continue to bring people together and act as a focal point for the community in a warm, friendly and sustainable environment,” says Croker.