Australia's Best Libraries

John Hill
20. June 2017
City of Perth Library, Perth WA | Kerry Hill Architects (Photo: ALIA)

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) announced the five winners of its inaugural Library Design Awards 2017 during a conference held on Monday in Melbourne.

The Australian Library Design Awards were created "to showcase the best in contemporary library interiors and exteriors in Australia, and to celebrate the investment in libraries made by our nation's institutions, corporations, local, state and territory governments." The awards drew 33 submissions, and the winners were selected by the judges* in four categories – public, school, academic, and special – with a fifth winner serving as an ALIA members' choice.

​Winners are highlighted below alongside text pulled from the judges' comments.

Public Library

City of Perth Library, Perth WA | Kerry Hill Architects (Photo: ALIA)

City of Perth Library, Perth WA | Kerry Hill Architects

Stunning interior and exterior design, with commendable use of light, shade and local materials; the library is a landmark building that contributes to the cityscape and complements the character of the surrounding cathedral square precinct. ... It relates well to the street with an obvious and transparent entrance.  ... The interior is warm and welcoming, using timber and green features. ... The building integrates well into its historic environment. The layout of the building takes account of the many and varied uses of the building and ensures busy vibrant areas are separated from the quieter more reflective spaces. ... This is obviously a major inner city redevelopment project in which the library successfully plays a key role.

City of Perth Library, Perth WA | Kerry Hill Architects (Photo: ALIA)

School Library

Hanly Learning Centre, St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Boondall, Qld | M3architecture (Photo: M3architecture)

Hanly Learning Centre, St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Boondall, Qld | M3architecture

The library is at the heart of the school, taking its rightful place as the key 'resource' space for students. ... The architecture is striking, welcoming and inspiring. The central commons area is versatile and flexible. Embraced on three sides, it provides a lofty, covered, flexible area for assembly, functions and events. ... The learning centre is a hub for learning, drawing together many library and learning-related resources and available for extended hours to suit day and boarding students. ... With the books on the fringes though still easily accessible, the focus of attention is on the diversity of learning and teaching spaces available to students. ... A high-quality building has been achieved for a reasonable rate, representing good value for a building of civic importance.

Hanly Learning Centre, St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Boondall, Qld | M3architecture (Photo: M3architecture)

Academic Library

John Phillips Library, Western Sydney University, Penrith Campus, NSW | Architects AJ+C (Photo: ALIA)

John Phillips Library, Western Sydney University, Penrith Campus, NSW | Architects AJ+C

An impressive well thought out building which blends with its surroundings. Good combination of transparency on the ground floor allowing a glimpse into the interior and the activity therein, with solidity on the upper floors demonstrating gravitas and the significance of the library building.  ... The interior is open and easy to navigate, and makes good use of natural light. ...  The interior design is very pleasing with a wide variety of seating and study places which also allow for a certain degree of flexibility. ... The library fulfils its objective of merging two libraries into one central library and study facility. ... The design supports the strategic aim to create a modern library that allows for both quiet study spaces and collaborative study and activities. In addition, the building is highly sustainable and provides barrier-free access.

John Phillips Library, Western Sydney University, Penrith Campus, NSW | Architects AJ+C (Photo: ALIA)

Special Library

Arup Library, Sydney, NSW | BVN (Photo: ALIA)

Arup Library, Sydney, NSW | BVN

The integration of the library into the 'fabric of the space' makes this library very appealing. Bespoke furniture within flexible spaces and easy accessibility from offices makes this a space that people would want to use. ... The space enables serendipitous engagement with library staff and the library team is at the heart of the office. It is a flexible and collaborative space. ... The openness of the collaborative work spaces provides ample opportunity for gatherings, staff manipulation of work spaces (away from traditional desk areas) and facilitates a studio-based learning and collaborative environment not unlike most schools of architecture. ... The aesthetic is industrial as expressed through polished concrete, garage doors, exposed services and a mixture of bespoke and flexible furniture configurations. ... It is a very interesting example of a special library morphing into a collaborative working space.

Arup Library, Sydney, NSW | BVN (Photo: ALIA)

ALIA Members' Choice

Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, Geelong Regional Library Corporation, Geelong, VIC | ARM Architecture (Photo: Emma Cross)

Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, Geelong Regional Library Corporation, Geelong, VIC | ARM Architecture

This is an award-winning, new, iconic building, visible from all directions, with its roof forming a geodesic dome. Inside there is a range of spaces. In its entirety, it has a serious wow factor. ... The library will draw visitors from across the Geelong region, with free universal access to lifelong learning, reading and discovery. ... Descriptors that spring to mind are spectacular, symbolic, people-focused, inspiring and multi-purpose. ... There has been consideration of the Indigenous heritage of the area and it has had a visually significant impact on the local area, through its innovative and daring design. ... An amazing design that integrates with the surrounding areas, provides for multiple uses and is an architectural statement piece.

Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, Geelong Regional Library Corporation, Geelong, VIC | ARM Architecture (Photo: John Gollings)

*Judges

  • Janine Schmidt, IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Standing Committee (Chair)
  • Susan Ashcroft, University Librarian, Murdoch University
  • Marisa Dellaca, Asia Pacific Library & Research Manager, Ashurst
  • Philip Follent, Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
  • Anne Girolami, Chair, ALIA Schools
  • Anne Kovachevich, Australasian Leader, Arup Foresight + Innovation team
  • Karen Latimer, Chair, UK Designing Libraries Advisory Board
  • Kylie Legge, Director, Place Partners
  • Christine Mackenzie, IFLA Governing Board

Related articles

Featured Project

Barozzi / Veiga

Graubünden Museum of Fine Arts

Other articles in this category