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Designs revealed for State Library of Victoria renovation

Designs revealed for State Library of Victoria renovation
April 3, 2017

Reporting that it has “never been busier”, an $88 million redevelopment of the State Library of Victoria envisages increasing publicly accessible spaces by 40%, creating new community areas and making the facility more welcoming for children

The redevelopment, titled Vision 2020, will see the creation of three new reading rooms, a new exhibition space to be named the Victoria Gallery and a new function room while the Library’ Russell Street entrance will be reopened after 15 years.

The newly unveiled the design by Australian practice Architectus and Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen celebrates the library’s heritage aspects with the oldest part of the library, the Queen’s Reading Room to be made accessible for the first time in a decade.

Opened in 1856, the Queen’s Reading Room is the library’s oldest reading room. The refurbishment will strip back paint to reveal the decorative colour scheme designed in 1860 and also reveal the original skylights of the reading room, which were covered during a 1970s renovation.

The Queen’s Reading Room has been closed to the public since 2003. After its refurbishment, it will reopen as the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which will be used as reading room during the day and a space for special events at night.

A new children’s quarter will be created to accommodate the growing numbers of children and families visiting the library. Co-designed with students from schools around Melbourne, the space will resemble a storybook treehouse or castle and feature reading nooks, a storytelling area and even a running track.

State Library of Victoria Chief Executive Kate Torney said the changes to the library were necessary due to its growing popularity, explaininf “anyone who has been here recently and has tried to find a seat will know that we're running out of space. This library has never been busier.

"Over the past decade we've experienced a 200% growth in the number of children and families using this library."

Project architect and Principal of Architectus John Sprunt, said the team had listened to the library's users in developing their plans.

He explained “what we want to do is work with the beauty of the existing buildings and create something that is right for now and the future.

"The users from the 1850s are very different to the users of today and what we've heard is that people want spaces that are created and more about the community and not so much about the collections, but we have to do both."

Commenting on the co-design process, Sprunt added “we learnt that children wanted a range of spaces, from reading nooks to places where they could run around, be a bit noisy and burn off energy.

“It was one of the defining aspects of the project and heavily influenced the conception and design of the Children’s Quarter.”

The project will cost $88 million, with $60.4 million funded by the Victorian Government.

The rest will come through philanthropic support, of which $21.8 million has already been raised.

Construction will commence in July 2017 and is due to be completed by 2020.

Images (from top): The State Library of Victoria's refurbished Queen’s Reading Room, its planned new  Victoria Gallery, the new Children’s Quarter and the new Children's Loft. Courtesy Architectus/State Library of Victoria.

1st February 2017 - STATE LIBRARY OF NSW SECURES $15 MILLION IN PRIVATE DONATIONS FOR NEW WORLD‐CLASS GALLERIES 

19th April 2016 - VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES $115 MILLION IN NEW ARTS FUNDING

10th March 2016 - ARTS LEADER LYNCH LABELS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S ARTS POLICY AS A DISGRACE

21st December 2015 - VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT LOOKS TO BACK CREATIVE INDUSTRIES 

23rd November 2015 - GEELONG LIBRARY AND HERITAGE CENTRE OPENING A MANIFESTATION OF THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY

30th April 2015 - $83.1 MILLION TO TRANSFORM STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA INTO CULTURAL HUB


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