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    North Fitzroy Library + Community Hub by Group GSA

    Geraldine Chua

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    It was an ambitious goal set out by the City of Yarra—the first council in Australia to achieve a One Planet Living certification—but one that was elegantly and successfully achieved by GroupGSA.

    Named ‘Bargoonga Nganjin’, which means ‘Gather Everybody’ in Woiwurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people, the North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub is a three-storey, 2,040sqm, 6 Star Green Star facility.

    Encompassing a library, Maternal Child Health facilities, and a variety of community-focused facilities, it is also home to the City’s International House.

    Central to the design strategy was the need to create a socially inclusive space, with a focus on minimising the building’s environmental footprint while seamlessly integrating it with the existing local context.

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    The design opens with a tight, wedge-shaped site, formerly home to a library branch.

    The façade, simple and striking, consists of polished and etched precast concrete, and locally sourced, recycled bricks, broken up by circular openings that connect the indoors to the outdoors.

    Above it, perforated screens catch the eye, working to filter light into the building.

    “The perforation patterns were inspired by a walk through Edinburgh gardens and a desire to recreate the dappled light experienced when sitting beneath a tree canopy,” Michael Mandl, director of GroupGSA, explains in an interview.   

    “Patterns were custom generated using an algorithm to control the size of aperture and overall transparency.”

    “A cross-generational meeting place for people of different cultures and ethnicities, with a strong focus on user experience, future flexibility and environmentally sustainable design, " he says.

    The library, distributed over two floors, occupies the majority of the floor plate. The first floor is divided between the Maternal Child Health facilities, including two playgroup rooms, and the library’s reading area.

    The second level features community facilities with large dividable spaces, a commercial kitchen and shared community office. An extensive rooftop garden serves as an extension of these spaces, providing an area for interaction and study.

    Here, an automatic irrigation system, equipped with moisture sensors, help minimise water usage. An under decking water catchment system collects rainwater for reuse throughout the building.

    Other green initiatives include an onsite power generation and pressurised air-handling system. Solar panels on the roof provide up to 12.5kW of power.

    The building was also designed with Best Practice Universal Access features, which include changing places facilities, lifts as fire escapes, hearing loops, luminance materials and on-site generator back up.Fitzroy3.jpg Hansen was engaged by the Yarra City Council to provide town planning services for the project. Images courtesy of Hansen

    The $17 million project was funded almost entirely by Council, and came off the back of extensive consultation with multiple stakeholders and the community.

    “Bargoonga Nganjin is a wonderful, modern facility offering a suite of community services for people of all ages, from newborn babies to seniors and everyone in between,” Yarra Mayor, councillor Amanda Stone, says.

    “It will support the lifelong learning and the ongoing health and wellbeing of our community for decades to come.”

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