Reid Library Refurbishment by SCHIN Architects

Since its original completion in 1964, the Reid Library has adapted to radical technological changes whilst accommodating the growing university community. Through a recent refurbishment project, SCHIN Architects have helped the library to become one of the busiest and most loved spaces at the University of Western Australia. This project is a Market Winner for the 2017 Shaw Contract Design Awards.

The Design

Reid Library is an iconic existing building at the heart of the Crawley Campus at the University of Western Australia. The library is known for its brutalist-inspired architecture and somewhat forbidding presence; featuring a moat at Ground Level which still functions as part of the active security strategy for the library collections. SCHIN Architects led this refurbishment project to encourage a dual use of the space for both study and socialisation, whilst embracing the changing nature of libraries from print to digital media.

A theme of transparency is central to the design concept of this project. SCHIN Architects have achieved this by opening up the north and south facing glazing and carefully placing internal walls and vertical fins. The Ground Floor previously housed print collections and staff offices, however is now a facility for collaborative study with a variety of styles of workspace and multimedia technologies.

Research was conducted within the existing student community, and it was discovered that most students would spend over five hours at a time in the library space. For this reason, SCHIN Architects wanted users to have a sense of ownership over the space they occupy.

Reid Library is now a facility for collaborative study with a variety of styles of workspaces and multimedia technologies. The Ground Floor space now includes dining, study, lounge, task, and reclining seat options to cater for different preferences. Semi-private study booths are individually light switched, and there are now 350 power outlets for charging mobile devices and WiFi throughout the Ground Floor. Mobile whiteboards and stools provide options to workshop and partition the larger open plan spaces.


The Sustainability

SCHIN Architects were privileged that their client viewed this renovation as an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of a 50+ year old building that still largely ran on its original electrical and mechanical systems. In order to achieve this goal, a combination of active and passive sustainable design strategies were implemented.

The Ground Floor was taken off the 1960s era central air conditioning system and refitted with dedicated mechanical plants which incorporate elements of natural ventilation. Glazing has allowed natural light to penetrate as deeply as possible, and organic response light fixtures have been installed throughout the Ground Floor. This helps to supplement the natural light conditions outside, reducing the power load of the building significantly.

Passive sustainable design initiatives throughout the space include recycling and re-purposing finishes from the original fit-out, as well as a focus on the specification of Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certified furniture and interior finishes.


The Flooring

According to SCHIN Architects, flooring was integral to the design of the refurbishment. As a 24 hour student facility, the finishes had to be highly durable, but also needed to respond to the ambient requirements of each space.

A highlight of the space is ‘The Circle’, a glass enclosed multi-function room which is ringed in Alchemy carpet tiles by Shaw Contract. The metallic glints within the flooring, paired with the vibrant orange furniture draw the eye to this space, which will be used as a gallery, workshop, lecture room, and group study space. The semi-private study booths are framed by Waimea carpet tiles, which provide a more subtle finish.

The Northern Lounge features a complicated gradated curving pattern of Grain vinyl planks that darken as they recede from the building facade, mimicking the ingress of natural light into the heart of the building.

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The Result

Following the refurbishment, the client undertook a survey within the library community which came back with a majority of glowing and positive feedback. The number of weekly visitors to the Reid Library has increased by 50%-80%, although the number of seats in the building has remained the same. SCHIN Architects have truly delivered a space which gives students and visitors control over their environment, whilst embracing the changing nature of libraries.

This project is a Market Winner for the 2017 Shaw Contract Design Awards. You can see the full list of Market Winners here.

Photography by Peter Bennetts.