Text description provided by the architects. State Library Victoria, a historic Australian landmark, has officially reopened its doors to the public, revealing extensively transformed library spaces designed by Danish architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Australian architecture and design studio Architectus. The library comprises 23 individual buildings and occupies an entire city block in Melbourne’s city centre.
The newly designed spaces are part of a five-year redevelopment plan aimed at expanding the library’s community outreach and enhancing the visitor experience. Working in partnership, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Architectus were tasked with rethinking and revitalising the existing spaces of the library in order to unlock possibilities, create connections, and provide a framework for the library’s ongoing and future evolution. Elif Tinaztepe, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen, said that working on a project of such historical and cultural significance was an exercise in contrasts.
“Our work is deeply contextual, so we dedicated ourselves to studying this historical institution and understanding its important place in the cultural landscape of Melbourne. Our aim with the transformation of State Library Victoria was to allow the heritage spaces to stand out in their raw beauty while complementing them with a strong contemporary design line to help carry this beloved institution into the future. Respecting the authenticity of the spaces and existing design elements was our guiding principle.”
Ruth Wilson, Principal and Melbourne Studio Leader at Architectus, said the design concept for the completed transformation puts library users at the centre, providing an open, accessible, and welcoming experience for all ages and cultural backgrounds. “The library has been evolving for more than 160 years and with this restoration now complete, we have prepared the library for its future uses, cementing its position in Melbourne’s history as the centre of inspiration and education.”