Carter Williamson Architects

Green Square Library & Plaza

The Green Square Library (GSL) is a library for Tomorrow: a contemporary Agora where knowledge is not only accessed but created and shared. No longer are libraries the sole domain of quiet, individual study, they are evolving as gregarious social creatures, hubs of knowledge and connection, incubators of literacies in print, audio and visual multimedia. GSL will embody these fundamental cultural paradigm shifts; optimistic, envisioning possible futures, adapting to embrace rapidly evolving technologies and modes of communication.

GSL is conceived in the tradition of great civic buildings residing in public squares. To Botany road GSL presents a striking, protective facade. Its south creates a laneway, expanding into colonnades for a living urban street of cafes, restaurants and edgy shopping. GSL’s north grand promenade is the public face of the building: the inviting public entrance punctured by the pedestrian cross street connecting the precinct’s north and south. The great public verandah reaching east into the park, acting as porch, sunshade, lectern, theatre stage or cinema screen celebrates the plaza; the open and gregarious face of the library.

The façade’s form & colour are derived from video footage of the immediate urban context. These images have been reconfigured into new visual data and reinterpreted as time-based colour profiles, the profiles have been re-ordered according to the diversity of local colour and luminosity. Mapping the surrounds’ qualitative aspects and incorporating them into this new intervention links the building’s performance to the very essence of the local area, and positions it as the working heart of the site.

The use of these viewing mechanisms as generative design tools brings new contemporary relevance to the discipline, and extends legibility of the building form, reinforcing its notion of ‘place’. The skin of the building, with its rhythmic, textured surface- like the spines of books on a shelf- rolls up and over the building, protecting, ventilating and illuminating the interior. Glass bands of varying widths provide light and cross ventilation whilst the skin’s impermeable elements deflect harsh light, noise and pollution. They are a canvas that reflects the colour of its surrounds.

Inspired by gardens in the old suburbs around Green Square and the notion of a waterway running through the site, the landscape pays homage to these moments in time. A forecourt to the library building is the main public gathering space. It is open and flexible in every sense. Planting ‘carriages’ with small flowering trees can be moved to suit the weather or events. Large open grass areas and more intimate eating areas are woven into the planting, which is part

market garden with a whimsical nod to the jumbled planting of a flowering suburban garden. Water is carried through the site via narrow channels with pockets of reed beds at points along the pathways. The old creek line is evoked in a lighting display directly linked to the library; accessed via the library website the public can submit their ideas for the lighting display.

This is space, art and architecture.

For the public.