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    Picture: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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    Picture: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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    Picture: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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    Picture: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Brutal and beautiful in Perth

Jez Abbott
Tuesday 12 Mar 2019

Brooding brutalist library to become light-filled focal point

A major redevelopment of a brutalist library will modernise the landmark building at the heart of a green campus.

Six-storey Curtin University Library in Perth, Western Australia will be transformed into a more open, light-filled building by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

For the past 47 years the TL Robertson Library has stood as an iconic brutalist structure that welcomes two million visits annually by students, faculty and the greater community.

The Danish architects together with Australia-based Hames Sharley is leading the redevelopment of the library that will modernise the building.

The 1972 library was originally designed with little natural daylight in order to protect the books, but designers aim to create a “living library” by opening up new pathways for visual and physical connectivity.

The new open, light-filled scheme will support knowledge sharing and connection, and ensure the library meets the needs of future users, said Morten Schmidt, founding partner of the practice.

“The redevelopment complements the building’s original features with bold, contemporary architectural interventions that focus on warm, natural materiality, and contrast the current structure with open lightness.”

Professor Deborah Terry, vice-chancellor at Curtin University, added that parks, green spaces, and tree-lined walkways characterised the scenic campus.

The architectural design invites the landscape in, with the use of timber and other natural materials. Vertical lines and elongated windows provide views to 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.

An event location and new flexible teaching spaces will flank a grand staircase with built-in seating. The 20,000m2 building is due to be completed in 2020.

 “The transformation will visually and physically connect the library to the heart of the campus and the new developments” said Schmidt.

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