An innovative subterranean library for the new high-density Sydney district of Green Square has won the prestigious Architectural Review Library Award of 2018. The naturally lit underground building unites library uses and community activities as well as creating 8,000 sq m of public open space at ground level.
Representing a new model for urban civic buildings, the library is lit by a sunken garden rotunda and 39 circular skylights dotted into the plaza groundscape, which deliver filtered natural light and fresh air to the underground haven of the library hall.
Above ground the project strategically places a series of highly legible forms – circular, triangular, rectangular and trapezium – to create a landscaped shared territory for multiple uses. Alongside the sunken forms of the circular garden and the trapezium of an external amphitheatre, a wedge-shaped glazed pavilion rises to announce a lofty and transparent entrance hall while a separate, beacon-like glazed tower stacks a series of community and library functions.
The AR Awards is a rolling programme of global awards that celebrate the best in design by seeking out transformative, leading-edge projects from across the world. The jury praised Green Square Library’s contribution to community infrastructure, its preservation of public space for future generations and its de-institutionalising of the library as a building type.
Matthias Hollenstein, director of Stewart Hollenstein said, ‘The project is a celebration of public space and public architecture and what it can mean to an emerging community. Libraries play a unique role in our cities as highly democratic spaces. Here we designed an urban living room for all to share.’