A library for the 21st century

Monday 14 Jun 2010

New Zealand's archoffice completes purpose-built new generation library in Auckland

The architectural concept for the Birkenhead Library is based around a simple narrative of looking through ancient existing trees on the site to the view - thus notions of solid and void, transparency, light quality, pattern and form were considered and modelled to inform various design issues. The intention was to have a pleasant and verdant quality of light available within the building that subtly changes during the day, leading to the building becoming transparent at night. The use of brick is a reference back to the old Plunket buildings that once occupied the site and provides a strong organisational element to the building's design.

The building enjoys a unique setting in the existing elevated Neil Fisher War Memorial Reserve. The reserve has been upgraded to both complement and enhance the building and the library is positioned to take account of the expansive and panoramic views available including Rangitoto and Coromandel in the east and the Waitakeres in the west. It combines Wi Fi, RFID, Internet and BMS technologies within contemporary architecture, space planning and design. On site public parking for thirty one cars within the building and a drive through book return have been provided.

There are a number of innovative uses of materials that were selected to suit the design concept:

  • Laminated Purple Heart and Alaskan Yellow Cedar 'fins' to screen the west facade. These are aesthetically sculptural when viewed from outside and practically act as sun control.
  • Alaskan Yellow Cedar 'fins' to the mezzanine and exterior deck. These are aesthetically sculptural when viewed from ground and street level, also practically double as compliant barriers.
  • Low E glazing and double glazing.
  • Laser cut painted sheets to form an internal perforated screen to the south façade. Glazed vertical slots (with glass alternating green and blue) within precast panels. These perforated panels are easily removable for cleaning or replacement if damaged.
  • Laser cut perforated ceiling panels that dapple light from roof lights but also acting as air extracts and air supply for the smoke extract fans.
  • Clay brick to the internal annex wall historically acknowledges the brick from the old plunket building previously located on the site.
  • Precast patterned lightweight panels to the south facade (fire rating) installed in a manner to continue the sense of lightness and transparency. Use of lightweight concrete reduced the level of additional insulation required. A sandwich panel was glued to the inside face, stopped and painted - alleviating the need for framing.

Key Facts:

New Zealand

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