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Craigieburn Library wins International Public Library of the Year Award 2014

September 4, 2014

Craigieburn Library by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp architects has achieved global acclaim for the restrained strength of its design concept, and its capacity to engage the local community. With photography by Trevor Mein.

Building Size: 4640 m2

Architect: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp

Photography Credits: Trevor Mein

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Craigieburn Library is located in Hume City is a fast-growing municipality north of Melbourne. This rapidly expanding community required a library, learning centre and gathering space to serve as a public community focus. The selected site was open in character and surrounded by an expanding series of new housing projects and retail development. We conceived the project to become a built focus of public life for the Hume community, but also sought to connect the architecture with the natural landscape that is being rapidly transformed by residential expansion.

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The project utilises locally sourced earth as the primary building material, establishing a highly sustainable, green agenda and setting a new benchmark for the growing township of Craigieburn. The library is a key public building for Craigieburn, and continues to bring people together and act as a focal point for the community in a warm, friendly and sustainable environment.

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The building is conceived as a series of interlocking pavilions of varying height and scale that step down from the entrance and a two-storey, central library reading space to the low scale of the children’s library. Each pavilion extends into the landscape through louvred roofs that create a series of northern verandahs. The cruciform circulation through the building ties these functions together in a highly legible, simple geometry. The primary reading room consists of a double-height volume with excellent access to natural light, with reading areas positioned along the glazed northern façade, protected by high-level, directional roof louvers.

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The lightweight steel and timber-treated roof structures are complemented by the heavy rammed earth walls that form the enclosure and connect the building with the earth it sits on. Through the rammed earth, we are seeking a direct transformation of the ground of the site into built form, in a sense wrapping the earth of the site around the lightweight verandah like pavilions that open out to this extended horizontal landscape. Within the shade of these louvered verandahs, community activities such as markets and music functions occur, as well as the natural spill of activity from within the library.

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In addition to the core library services, the project includes an integrated local art gallery, café, childcare centre, computer training centre and meeting and function spaces. The library is a key public building for Craigieburn, and will continue to bring people together and act as a focal point for the community in a warm, friendly and sustainable environment.

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The library has garnered international acclaim, achieving the title of the International Public Library of the Year at the recent IFLA (The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) awards, held in Lyon, France. Craigieburn Library was particularly praised for its ability to accommodate and engage the local community, the strength of the design concept and its airy openness to its surrounding landscape.

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