The Concord Library Centre in Sydney’s Inner West is a dramatic building positioned on an island site in a leafy residential suburban setting. The building houses the Canada Bay City Library of 2200m2 on two floors, the large Wellbank Children’s Centre occupies the lower ground floor. The external covered play areas, carpark and parkland combine to fill the remainder of the site and provide a co-ordinated curtilage for the new Centre.
The building was designed as an expression of the new paradigm for Civic libraries. It includes a range of flexible study and group spaces, a large community meeting room and cafe. The facility provides access to traditional resources, online digital collections, and a range of Council and Community support services. Conceptual Framework.
The building was conceived as an expression of the interaction between man and nature as a response to the idea of the Library as a technical knowledge centre and the underlying ethos of its green suburban environment. The ‘building as machine’ rises out of the soft complex sails which represent the botany of the site. The concept is continued by the twin themes of the cut-out man and the leaf which recur throughout the fabric of the building.
Relationship to Context
The building was designed to relate to its suburban context while standing apart to express its Civic importance. The scale of its built form relates to the street grid while the rhythm and modulation of the main facades relate to the texture and grain of the surrounding suburb. The transparency of its form expresses its desire to engage with neighbours and passers-by on both emotional and physical levels.
The Brief called for a building that created a perception of open-ness and transparency in its operation and a high level of flexibility and adaptability in its use. The new building achieves these goals with its large open, light filled spaces, transparent glazed partitions and the use of adaptable pod-like internal structures that sit inside and are separated from the building envelope. The brief called for a focus on the needs of its users and patrons and a response to a highly variable range of community requirements. The building achieves this by creating a range of “adaptable spaces” within its program, providing ‘pods’ for study/ teaching/ reading spaces.
The architect led the team in the design of the building envelope, interior design, building systems, specialist furniture, environmental graphics and landscape to create a complete and highly integrated project. Cost/Value OutcomesThe design process included extensive cost planning, the project was completed on budget.
The building uses a solar driven induced ventilation system with a supplementary AC System to substantially reduce its energy use: exhaust air is drawn out of the building at high level by the external solar driven thermal chimneys, this draws in replacement air through the large air intakes positioned in the landscape, the air is cooled in the underground labyrinth before distribution through the interior spaces.