Text description provided by the architects. The Avondale Heights Library and Learning Centre is located on a prominent corner site opposite a McDonald’s restaurant and adjacent to the local shopping strip and automotive repair garages. It is amid the quintessential Australian suburb famously celebrated by Barry Humphries.
Following a decade of modest local development, the Victorian Government proposed a new community resource combining an existing former school gymnasium with a multipurpose hall and associated learning centre. The integration of services allows the centre to become a ‘one stop shop’ for a wide range of community needs.
The existing gymnasium is centrally located on the site bordered by Military Road and Clarendon Street, while the new development area extended as a large, uninterrupted green field site bordering Clarendon Street. The gymnasium was previously used by community groups and the nearby Avondale Heights Primary School.
The centre was to be responsive to local residents and interrelated to their social, leisure, information and learning needs. This presented the opportunity for a significant, easily found and adventurous building reflecting community cultural aspirations.
The three principal building elements – existing gym, learning spaces and library – are functional and architecturally prosaic. Howard Arkley’s use of bold colourings and exaggerated patterning have inspired the design. Budget constraints and functional requirements dictated a simple building form, expressed as two volumes.
During construction Moonee Valley City Council determined that the project include library facilities. This required that the documented multipurpose hall be reconfigured as a lending library. The changes were accommodated within program and budget.
The buildings and the spaces within have been designed and planned with future flexibility in mind creating possibilities for future change of use or alteration of occupation. As a result the centre can cater for groups from as small as 3 or 4 in the small meeting rooms to seminars or training sessions with 50 - 100 people.
The design was also informed by liaison with VicUrban, the developers of the adjacent site, particularly in relation to traffic access and management and the creation of walking routes through the site to the local shopping area.
The building was designed to minimize use of energy by reducing heating and cooling loads and where possible, passive heating, cooling and ventilation are used instead of mechanical systems. To this extent features of the sustainable design are water collection, solar hot water system, south facing saw toothed roof to the Library area to provide natural daylight, BAS and Lighting control systems with low energy fittings and sensitive material selection.