Our Geelong library and heritage centre attracted 10,000 people during its opening weekend.

After just four months, it has recorded an astounding 138,000 visits—7640 a week. Not bad for a public library. It is proving to be exactly what we had hoped: a community hub and techno-resource centre as well as a book repository.

Our designs rethink the library tradition of isolation and silence. GLHC’s ground and first floors are freely noisy: they invite people to meet, talk, play music, drink coffee and use noisy multi-media.

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Ground floor

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Children’s floor

There is an entire floor for children and teens with computers, a garden terrace, and an activities room with a wet area (kids made synthetic slime there on opening weekend). There are still quiet areas: the rich-red Heritage Centre reading room and Level 2, which contains the adult collections.

The zigzag glazing on the western façade, which fronts Johnstone Park, breaks the building into a crystalline alcove if it has been eroded by some natural process. The planting at ground level and on the elevated terraces (landscape architecture by TCL) merges the building with the garden.

“You look out at the park, not through a flat glass plane but from vantages, from outcrops and crags that overlook other lookouts. The garden comes into the building, onto ledges and eyries.”

—Ian McDougall

Multi-use function space with deck overlooking Corio Bay

Heritage Centre reading Room

Throughout the building, the furniture is a working display of best-quality contemporary pieces by nationally and internationally recognised designers. ARM’s Andrea Wilson says, “There are no reproductions. All the furniture is honest and genuine.

Our favourites include the children’s Vitra Eames elephants, and the PROOFF EarChair

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Vitra Eames elephants

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PROOFF EarChair

“Phenomenal visitor numbers demonstrate to us that the project is meeting all of its objectives – it is creating a vibrant hub in the centre of Geelong, further enlivening the cultural precinct; acting as a significant tourist destination; and providing world-class library and heritage services to all visitors.”

—Patti Manolis, CEO, Geelong Regional Library Corporation

Images by: John Gollings and Emma Cross