Could Libraries Become Precinct Hubs?

Geelong Library

When considering the design and function of precinct developments, thoughts often naturally run to bars, cafés, sporting venues and theatres. While these spaces are important as community hubs, libraries are taking on a growing role in the world of architecture.

Library developments have gained prominence in recent months, with home developers and interior designers placing heavy importance on private libraries and commercial and government entities investing heavily in the development of public library spaces.

While libraries have traditionally been popular community destinations, their institutional feel led to a dip in their popularity. Those times seem to be coming to an end more recently with the industry strongly backing the new interest in library developments.

The planned $45 million Geelong Library and Heritage Centre is yet another example of the growing trend.

Geelong Library

Slated to be built in Johnstone Park, architectural firm ARM Architecture will deliver the major community hub. No strangers to precinct feature design, the architectural firm has recently completed the $136 million Hamer Hall redevelopment project.

Confirmed plans developed by the firm show the building with a highly unique dome-like shape and a façade consisting of a mass of beehive gridding over glass. A tiered glass green roof, which is in effect a jagged cut out from the dome adorns the front of the building.

According to Greater City of Geelong Mayor John Mitchell, the building’s modern aesthetic is a much-desired change of pace for architecture in the city.

Geelong Library

“It’s something different for Geelong – it will arguably be our city’s most iconic building that will draw people in and put us on the map,” says Mitchell. “The architects have deliberately gone for a modern design that complements rather than competes with the existing heritage buildings in the precinct.”

While the cutting edge design has earned mixed reviews thus far, Geelong Regional Library Board chair Andy Richards has praised the architects for their modern vision, which he says will give the building added longevity.

“We know modern library services help shape smarter and more connected local communities,” says Richards. “This magnificent, architecturally designed building will not only be a landmark for our city and future generations, it will significantly improve and strengthen library services for the CBD and the entire regional network.”

Work on the building is expected to begin next year, which is expected to be completed by mid-2015.

By Tim Moore
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