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  7. State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects

State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects

  • 01:00 - 25 June, 2010
State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects
State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects, © Jon Linkins
© Jon Linkins

© Shantanu Starick © Shantanu Starick © Shantanu Starick © Shantanu Starick +18

  • Architects

  • Location

    Brisbane QLD, Australia
  • Architects

    Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects
  • Project Team

    Timothy Hill, Brian Donovan, Damian EckersleyFrank Way, Jeffrey Briant, Brett Hudson, Lucas Leo, Mark Floate, Greg Lamb, Fedor Medek, George Taran, Ron van Sluys, Ines Hallmond, Graham Mudge, Graham Hobbs, Rosario Distaso, David Evans, Mark Damant, Seth Remaut, Tania McLachlan, Phil Hindmarsh, Kevin O’Brien, Michael Hogg, Lisa Matray, Yee Chong, Louise Hamilton, Paul Jones, Michael Moore, Chris Hing Fay, Ceirwen Burton, Ben Killeen, Eden Norris, Stephanie Donigi, Michael Rasi, Gary Cannon
  • Design Period

    2 years
  • Construction Period

  • Area

    0.0 sqm
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

From the architect. The existing Queensland State Library was redeveloped into a facility more than twice its original size through the reconfiguration of the existing building (10,000sqm) and provision of additional 12,000sqm of new space.

In addition to expanding existing facilities the design contains a broad array of new specialist components including: an Indigenous Knowledge Centre, critically controlled repositories, auditorium, triple A exhibition gallery, cafés, business/conference centre, informal gallery and expanded car park.

© Jon Linkins
© Jon Linkins

The Site Infrastructure Works for the northern expansion of the QCC includes 20,000 sqm of public open space, a new road system and underground car parking facilities.

The briefing and design process spanned a large and complex client group incorporating community and indigenous consultation. The Library itself has over 1,000 differing rooms and delivers 50 service programs simultaneously. Appropriately it is an institution subject to constant change. As the building collects differing staff groups on a single site for the first time, the Architects have been actively involved with organisational restructuring and change management.

© Shantanu Starick
© Shantanu Starick

Conceptual Framework

In order for a re-housed cultural institution to authentically take its civic place, its procurement, as an exercise in civic conduct, would ideally reflect a cultured process. This project confirms the value of the difference between advocating on behalf of custodial knowledge and providing proscriptive services. Architects are obliged to be both guardians and participants in culture.

Diversity and intensity of democratic library usage required authentic porosity for the public despite the institution’s size and siting.

© Dianna Snape
© Dianna Snape

Public and Cultural Benefits

Profound compression/densification of the building footprint released land area for potential site configurations to enable future formation of parkland north of Montague road axis and a future (and diversifying) development site.

Provision of three public ‘rooms’ (additional to both brief and client expectations) for genuinely public use; of critical consequence to the immediate site and Brisbane itself which for a capital city is sparsely supplied with places for civic occasions.

© Dianna Snape
© Dianna Snape

Relationship of built form to context

Founding brief concept required new facilities to shift from existing QCC model of a ‘complex’ to a model based on integrated ‘urban fabric’. This anticipates simultaneous integration with and contest with the setting. Ambivalence has been treated as having aesthetic potential.

Moves included; allowance for eventual continuation of QAG water mall and memorable volumes, reiteration of the original building’s ‘terrace’ concept at numerous other scales, extension of existing characteristic ground plane/wall plane monolithic colouring, differing elevation concepts to support differing adjacent realm characteristics.

© Dianna Snape
© Dianna Snape

Program Resolution

Organisation of the building, (five climates, five security levels, existing flawed planning, etc) is inherently complex, especially since it contains sub-addresses. Suggestive orientation and apparency of people to people, and of people to spaces, is given relentless priority.

© Dianna Snape
© Dianna Snape

Integration of allied disciplines

Client perceptions of the project shifted focus to the procurement dynamics ahead of disciplinary alliance. Key alliance was with Library tenants to enable joint participation in institutional transformation.

Cost/Value Outcome

Procurement scenario and a period of extraordinary escalation costs (which were not allowed for in either budget or contract), prevent evaluation.

© Jon Linkins
© Jon Linkins

Strategic design initiatives included; utilisation of conventional construction techniques with minimal sub-contracts requiring high workmanship standards, utilisation of existing un-useable balconies and existing roof slab as new GFA, displacement of the bulk of circulation area into exterior minimally serviced space, compression of repository by designing for cubic instead of briefed square metres.

Sustainability. Not realistic under this form of procurement for the Architect to champion or facilitate ESD. Response to client and user needs. As site infrastructure commitments were clarified, covertly the Library was clearly required to yield shade, amenity and comfortable urban experiences on the public’s behalf.


Brief and Government expectations of the library to continue (with enhanced storage functionality after extension), as a minor player in the QCC, have possibly been given constructive provocation. In addition to its dedicated provisions, the site’s active hosting of events and even simple, comfortable occupation gives an optimistic fillip to the role of a Library in a Queensland setting. The building itself plays a part in this perceptual shift.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects" 25 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


Mimy Rogers · March 29, 2011

olha só que sonho de biblioteca! via @archdaily

o0 · July 01, 2010

Architecture: State Library of Queensland [Pictures] - (via @archdaily) #design #architecture

Donovan Hill · June 30, 2010

and the state library on the weekend

idil yücel · June 28, 2010

hayat?m?n geri kalan?n? burada geçirmek istiyorum:) State Library of Queensland

jeux de gestion · June 28, 2010

I saw it too, it's a little bit different. Really extraordinary.

amra01 · June 28, 2010

State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects | ArchDaily

Rory · June 27, 2010

I'm sure this building would have been far different if it was from scratch. Being a redevelopment I think they have done a great job. Donovan Hill is easily one of my favourite firms in Australia.

mike · June 26, 2010

i saw this about two years much better in person, proportionally very astute, and relaxed choice of materials worked so well with the surrounding context and with the weather.....very well done....

Banc · June 26, 2010

Nice, well executed building. Wish I could call it innovative, or at least fresh! Public buildings can be great gestures that redefine the way we live or at least the meaning of a tired building type. I'm not sure there's the joy here that's found in e.g. Tama Art University Library in Tokyo or Rex's Kortrijk LLLIBRARY or of course OMA's Seattle Public Library which all take a chance to offer their public something extraordinary.

Brian Baltin · June 26, 2010

State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects | ArchDaily

Regina Spiker · June 25, 2010

Wow, what a library! State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects | ArchDaily

WPstudios · June 25, 2010

RT @nicholaspatten State Library of Queensland.

Nicholas Patten · June 25, 2010

State Library of Queensland.

Scott @ Cube Studio · June 25, 2010

State Library of Queensland / Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp ...: Architects: Donovan Hill + Peddl...

Rédaction Archimag · June 25, 2010

Retour sur une très belle architecture de bibliothèque à Brisbane (Australie)


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