Ground Floor Reid Library Refurbishment by SCHIN Architects | People’s Choice Winner
Location: Perth, Australia
Products Used: Noble Materials Collection in Alchemy Tile, Color Frame Color Form Collection in Color Frame Tile, Grain + Pigment Collection in Grain LVT
Honouring Original Design
Sustainability is a required design choice for the Ground Floor Reid Library refurbishment project, imagined and realised by SCHIN Architects. SCHIN was tapped to design a solution that would honour the building’s original design, modernise its energy efficiency and create collaborative environments for students to enjoy.
The facility is an iconic existing building at the heart of the University of Western Australia campus. The building is known for its Brutalist-inspired architecture and somewhat forbidding presence. It even features a moat at Ground Level, which still functions as part of the active security strategy for the library collections
Designing for the Future
In order to reduce the environmental impact of the 50 year old building that still largely ran on its original electrical and mechanical systems, SCHIN removed the 1960’s era central air conditioning system and refitted with dedicated mechanical plants, which incorporate some elements of natural ventilation for the interior.
SCHIN promoted transparency from North to South with new glazing and the removal of internal partitions to allow natural light to penetrate as deeply as possible. Organic response light fixtures were installed throughout the facility, which dim or brighten automatically to supplement the natural light conditions outside, reducing the power load of the building significantly. Additional passive sustainable design initiatives include recycling and re-purposing finishes from the original fit-out and specification of Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certified furniture, fixtures and fittings, as well as Shaw Contract’s Cradle to Cradle™ certified product.
Creating Collaborative Moments
The ground floor previously housed print collections and staff offices. It is now a facility for collaborative study with a variety of styles of workspace and multimedia technologies. The library’s central location on campus and its position between the beautifully landscaped Great Court at the north and sports field James Oval at the south have made it a popular destination for students to both study and socialize. The University Executive have encouraged this dual use and with this renovation embraced the changing nature of libraries as book collections increasingly transition from print to digital media.
University staff conducted studies and found that most students that visit the facility will spend over five hours at a time there. SCHIN wanted to give these users, who spend so much of their time in the building, a sense of ownership over the space they occupy. The 700 seats on the ground level now include dining, study, lounge, task and reclining options to cater to different preferences. Semi-private study booths are individually lit for greater environmental control. There are now 350 power outlets for charging mobile devices and Wi-Fi throughout the ground level. Mobile whiteboards and stools provide options to workshop and partition the larger open plan spaces.
Working with Shaw Contract
Flooring, and in particular patterned floors, are integral to the design of the facility. As a 24-hour student facility, the finishes had to be highly durable and responsive to the ambient requirements of each space. For example, The Circle, a glass enclosed multi-function room, is ringed in Alchemy Talc Platinum. The metallic glints and vibrant orange furniture draw the eye to this space, which has variously been used as a gallery, workshop, lecture room and group study space. Conversely, semi-private study booths are framed by Waimea Volcanic, 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 façade, mimicking the ingress of natural light into the heart of the building.
“The diversity of the Shaw range allowed us to compromise on price where appropriate in order to let the stars of the design shine,” said SCHIN.
Since completion of the facility renovation the number of weekly visitors has increased by 50%-80%, although the number of seats in the building has remained the same. The facility undertook a survey of users following refurbishment, to gather feedback about the new space. From 137 responses, 86% of the feedback received was positive and popular words used to describe the new space in the survey results included ‘modern’, ‘clean’, ‘bright’, ‘spacious’ and ‘comfortable’ and reflect words used in the project briefing documents.
Join us in congratulating SCHIN Architects on an impactful design that will serve the students and staff sustainably at the Ground Floor Reid Library at the University of Western Australia for years to come.
Congratulations SCHIN Architects for your winning project in the 2017 Shaw Contract Design Awards!