The Green Square Library and Plaza designed by Felix aims to be truly new public arena which will act as the hub of the vibrant community. Their design presents a building and landscape that engenders a contemporary public space for the community. Understanding the demands of a contemporary public library, the plaza has been designed as an essential part of the library’s function. With the proliferation of printed books, the reading room, once the center of the library’s function, is revisited in this library as an experience through the multi-functional community orientated space. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The Public engages with the building at the Plaza level through the monumental atrium space; making reference to the grand reading rooms of the Library of New South Wales. The atrium space is treated as a continuation of the public realm, connecting the landscaped plaza with the clean lines of the internal subtraction of volume from within the building.
The building has been designed to be realized as a flexible container, with basic structural grids for a simple construction. The internal spaces will be flexible and easy to reconfigure if the function of the Library were to change. The circulation is efficient; confined to the perimeter of the central core and void structures, while the centrality of the service desk allows for effective surveillance of each floor plate. Vistas are opened up across the central atrium through double height glazed openings. The roof will be inhabited and utilized as a multi-functional terrace space, providing a possible lease of income for the Library. It will also provide a visual stimulant to the residents of the surrounding high rise buildings.
The atrium is the multifunction public space. It is capable of providing for exhibitions, performances, movie nights, children’s shows and readings. The atrium is a large void through the building and the landscape. It uses its monumentality to bring all the functions of the library and the plaza into one defined space. Large glass windows and doors visually connect the atrium to the landscape beyond and into the internal workings of the library. The atrium is carefully configured to give the library a timeless quality. The space will be dramatic, the architectural equivalent of encountering a large gorge.
The Ground Condition
The ground level of the landscape plaza passes through the main level of the library, a functional gesture that allows the public and community to flow through the ground level without obstruction. The building acts as a shade structure housing the primary functions at ground level. The children’s space is situated on this level located near the Tram/Pram Stop which encroaches into the buildings realm. The café spills out into the landscape and the plaza from the under croft, while centrally there is the Neighbourhood Service Center and lobby for the main one on one public engagement with the library and council.
The design uses sustainability as a deeply applied science and philosophy. The design is an intervention, an ecology which utilizes natural systems, living communities and information flows. The complexity of the project is harnessed from its inherent series of related conditions using building and landscape as mediators. The initial conditions were information and community as the contributing factors to the complexity network. The natural system introduces a new structure which symbiotically reworks the original naturally ecology. The Green rating component will be a mixture of innovative uses of materials, ventilation systems and passive albeit responsive façade systems.
Library as Social Ecology
This strategy for the plaza will create community ecology, an innovative terrain of possibilities. Overlapping functions combined with paths create opportunities for the community to engage with the library and plaza as a civic space of interaction. This idea is reinforced into all aspects of the design process of the library and the plaza. The facades correspond to the landscape in section to further reinforce the complexity of the combined functions of the building and the landscape. The design encourages physical interaction and chance meetings with friends, neighbors and colleagues. A place where the everyday lives of the inhabitants brings the spaces alive.
We believe that the plaza can be used to interact with augmented reality and social media platforms to further deepen the interaction of different user groups of the library and plaza. Due to the uptake in handheld devices and smart phones the Library can be distribute??? through the evolving technology exchange potential of the devices. The Library could easily lend devices to the public. This can allow for a library-scape where geo-positioned information can flow into and around the landscape. The Art strategy could be influenced by the visualization capabilities of Augmented Reality, which will appeal to all the user groups. This technology could also be used to tell different stories about the site and recreate scenes which depict its different histories.
Using a parametric driven software design tool we used the varying sun angles throughout the year to parameterize the north façade. We are able to generate multiple solutions to the North façade and how it interacts with the plan of the library on level one and two. As the Brise Soleil becomes different functions of the library it reconfigures itself to still achieve the highest sun penetration in winter and no sun penetration in summer. Throughout the year it self-organizes the suns penetration through the natural change in the suns position. The basis of the thinking is to use the north façade to scientifically and aesthetically demonstrate the sustainable thinking behind the design. The north façade and the sun engage with each other to create a functional solution with a stunning visual result.
The landscape is a dynamic element bringing the plaza to life via the involvement of people in the spaces created, resulting in a holistic living breathing organism. People are the making of the plaza and the spaces created provide the opportunity for visitors to interact with the learning opportunities of a library, extended out into the landscape. The design creates a diversity of flexible spaces containing elements that encourage learning and stimulate interaction.
A dynamic landscape evolving over time suggests initially an adventitious landscape exposed to the elements - a sun scorched windswept landscape typical of a regenerated landscape which requires tough plants and robust materials. As the landscape evolves it will change through the maturation process of any natural system. Initially the sun loving vegetation types will prosper as the canopies of the larger trees develop but as their canopies reach out the understorey it will require new species which prefer the shade. This evolving landscape is both a challenge and an opportunity. Green Square is a long term investment and the landscape proposed will be in constant flux, always different and as such it needs to be managed with this in mind.
This evolving landscape process should be facilitated from the initial installation, each year new plantings of material with slightly different shade and water demands need to be installed and in time the landscape will need thinning of the trees and new plantings of trees installed. This will provide a resilient ageless landscape. This landscape process offers the opportunity to harvest the landscape. Trees for timber, bark for tannin and dyes, foliage for tannin, flowers for scent and fruit for food These opportunities can be harvested in a city landscape that has been designed and developed with these objectives in mind.
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Collaborators: Allen Jack & Cottier
Landscape Architects: Pullyblank
Artist: Jon Tarry
Status: Competition – Final 5 short-listing
Project Type: Library and Public Plaza
Client: City of Sydney Council