Inspired by nature

Thursday 03 Nov 2011

Iconic landmark sets new benchmarks in contemporary library design

Macquarie University had high aspirations for their new library, with the project to set new benchmarks in contemporary library design for sustainability, efficiency and innovation, with the design to be a new iconic landmark within the campus masterplan. 

The transparent, welcoming and inviting forms of the building open to embrace and define the new University Common, welcoming students, staff, researchers and the public to the new site of learning. The design was inspired by the natural landscape of the University, with the facade design drawing inspiration from the striated colouration of the local Eucalypts, which form a uniquely Australian aspect of the local environment. 

The arrangement of the built forms was configured to create an extension of the natural parkland ground plane over the landscaped podium, housing the majority of the library and which extends into, and through, the building. A facade of irregular vertical louvre screens over sinuous glazed forms evoke the vertical trunks of the Eucalyptus and create an appropriately human-scaled, intimate space for learning. The transparency of the glazed facade and courtyards allow the natural environment to bleed through the building, filling it with diffused natural light. 

The forest forms of Eucalyptus trees can be found in the irregular aluminium external sunscreen louvres. Three different profiles were used, with varied spacing that responds to the different facade orientations. Three vibrant earth colours were carefully selected for the louvres to complement and accent the natural colours of the surrounding Eucalyptus trees and mimic the subtle play of tones within the natural landscape. These colours were bound together with a neutral brown colour which also acts as a unifying, transitional colour for the base of each leaf form element.

This colour palette was replicated internally with the use of wall panelling to match the external facade, bringing the forms and colours of the facade into the building just as the building itself brings the landscape inside. Internally, emphasis was given to the earthier shades to create a softer, unified environment.

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