As the winners of the 2014 Design Is…Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects. These are their stories.
Fleur Downey spoke with us about the design approach to this community-focused project.
Describe the project in one word.
How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact user in a space?
This project has given the people of Melton a space that is community-based and collaborative. Because of the design approach, varied community facilities are grouped within the building, including Maternal and Child Health Services, Lecture Spaces, Office Space, Cafe, Bookable Community Meeting Rooms and Children’s library and external playspace, along with the library itself. This encourages the end user to engage with their community on more than one level and in many different ways. Spaces are both intimate and open, and create a social flow through the building, encouraging patrons to use the spaces in a variety of ways. Individual groups are catered for, with specific ‘teen’ and kids spaces, the design of which is reflective of their retrospective uses.
Since the opening of the library, memberships have increased by 1000 people per month, reinforcing the sense that the library is now the central community hub.
Design is a process – explain your journey
The journey began with a client (Melton City Council) which was committed to providing a building to serve as more than just a library for their community. The brief and design was created through detailed consultation with the client, and importantly, end user groups. The site located in the old township of Melton originally housed the 1970s original municipal library. The brief was to provide a new contemporary library and hub for the local community. The project features a double height reading space, multiple community meeting, theatre and teaching spaces. The project has a very high environmental agenda and will provide a new central civic space for the people of Melton, unlike anything in the existing town centre.
This challenging mix of influences assisted with the delicate refinement of the building and interior design, as what sometimes appeared to be a constraint in fact opened doors to new ingenuity and careful detailing.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
The public library is a trusted and recognised feature of a local area that makes a vital contribution to the social, educational and recreational development of local communities. In this way, fjmt feel that true involvement by the architect in the briefing and development of an understanding of the desired outcomes for the community is essential. This includes workshopping with user groups and stakeholders, as well as gaining a deep understanding of the community itself. This detailed design process is resultant in buildings that are truly responsive to users.