Proyect TeamBrett Simmonds, Ellen Wilkinson, Jo Dane, Kok Leong Ho, Sue Al-Azzawi, Sue Fenton, Thomas Haylock
The new Raheen Library at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne has been extended and redesigned by Woods Bagot as a response to rising student numbers, increasing the floor space of the existing library by 40% and increasing student capacity by 77%.
The entrance to the library has been strategically re-positioned, providing visitors to ACU with a stronger arrival experience, and becoming home to less formal lounge and shared spaces for after-hours use.
With the establishment of an additional level for the library, book collection was relocated to the darker lower ground floor, connected by a new stair, creating an opportunity for an open, light-filled student study area, multi-media projection room and Law Collection library on the first floor.
Part of the vision of the project was to create a space that would appeal to students, a library that not only fosters learning but also provides an environment that is inspirational and pleasurable to inhabit, akin to a café or bar.
A third level was added to the original two-storey library building, also designed by Woods Bagot in 2002. This additional space, in combination with a reconfiguration of existing spaces, provides a wide spectrum of informal learning spaces to suit collaborative learning as well as new staff workspaces and a new law area.
When approaching the aesthetics, Woods Bagot drew on the ultimate symbol of the library: books. In line with this, the materiality was inspired by paper, referencing textures such as folding, sewing, endpaper designs and bookbinding. Blonde timbers, crumpled paper lightshades and graphics that reference origami all complete the paper theme.
The library remained operational throughout the construction process and was completed ahead of schedule. Students have embraced the new environment with enthusiasm and are using the library in ways that were anticipated during briefing and design.