Curtin University Library

Perth/ Australia

Size/ 19,280 m²
Competition/ Open RFP process, 2018
Status/ Expected completion 2022
Client/ Curtin University
In Association/ Hames Sharley
Visuals/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

For the past 47 years, the TL Robertson Library at Curtin University in Perth, Australia has stood as an iconic brutalist structure that welcomes two million visits annually by students, faculty, and the greater Perth community. The redevelopment of the library that will modernise the building, making it more than just a storehouse of books. The new open, light-filled scheme will support knowledge sharing and connection, and ensure the library meets the needs of future users.

The library, built in 1972, was originally designed with little natural daylight in order to protect the thousands of books and other physical materials in its collection. We aim to create a “living library” by opening up new pathways for visual and physical connectivity throughout the building site, while bringing natural light into the space.

Parks, green spaces, and tree-lined walkways characterise the scenic Curtin University campus. The TL Robertson Library is centrally located on the campus, making it a natural focal point and a historic landmark for students and faculty. The architectural design invites the landscape in, with the use of timber and other natural materials.

Vertical lines and elongated windows provide views to the tall trees in the adjacent park.

A clean palette of lightweight materials supporting a bold architectural expression will add a light, crisp contrast to the existing concrete and brick structure.

Inside the library, a new atrium will create a strong connection between the second and third levels, both of which reach out to the landscape. A makerspace, an event location, and new flexible teaching spaces will flank a grand staircase with built-in seating.

Curtin University Library is not just a redevelopment. The project is the re-envisioning of a building that has academic and social significance. Adapting and repurposing existing spaces adds richness and nuance to the places in which we live, work, play, learn, and heal. It anchors this very moment in the larger, continuous story. This transformation work provides opportunities to build on the past by creating adaptable places for the future.

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