Architecture: St Joseph’s Primary School Library, Charlestown

Mar 6, 2012
  • Article by QOH Architects
  • Designer QOH Architects

The new library at St Joseph’s Primary School in Charlestown was commissioned as part of the Australian Government’s Building the Education Revolution (BER) scheme, and was designed to provide a modern and contemporary library facility that would not only encourage learning, but also engage the imagination of the students.

The library sits comfortably within the existing school campus and forms the centrepiece of a cluster of classrooms. Its central location, at the intersection of two main pedestrian pathways, reinforces the importance of the library in the life of the school.

The shape of the building was designed to respond to the built and natural features of the site – following the contours of the land and nestling between significant trees. The colour selection is visually stimulating and relate to the colours of the bushland setting.

Much consideration has been given to the environmental issues of aspect, cross ventilation and natural light penetration. Ample shading has been provided to the windows on the northern and western facades to minimise heat gain in summer. Large areas of north facing glazing look out to a newly created outdoor green space. The use of high level louvres in combination with a raked ceiling in the main library space allows hot air to be naturally vented from the building. Insulation in the walls, roof and floor reduces the need to heat and cool the building and improves the efficiency of an  air-conditioning system, should it be retrofitted to the building. Rainwater harvesting via an underfloor tank reduces current and ongoing water consumption at the school. Materials were selected for their environmental value as much as for their durability.

The new library is an exciting addition that addresses the specific needs of the school, is visually appealing, ties together the various classroom units and responds to the natural bushland setting to create a light filled learning environment.

The project received a Commendation (Public Buildings Category) in the 2011 AIA Newcastle Architecture Awards for this project.

Team Troy Zwart, Abigail Lewis, James Buskin, Allan Pearson

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