City of Perth Library and Public Plaza by Kerry Hill Architects
Public Architecture: National Commendation
Australian Institute of Architects
The truncated, cylindrical form of the new City of Perth Library is bold and timeless, earning it a place among some of Perth’s finest heritage buildings, including the Old Perth Town Hall, Treasury Buildings and St George’s Cathedral. Its chiselled profile is generated by sun angles, in a simple yet thoughtful gesture to ensure that winter light penetrates the public lawn terrace of the adjacent cathedral. The angled truncation also calibrates the height of the library to appropriately address the scale of the heritage buildings on Hay Street. Internally, the success of the circular plan is due to the architects’ clever decision to push the principal circulation to its glazed perimeter, setting up a way to circumnavigate the program (and seated occupants) on each level. The promenade between floors also offers a shifting panoramic view of the immediate urban outlook and prospect of the Swan River landscape and distant hills to the east. At the core of the building is the triple-height reading room, characterized by warm timbers and filtered daylight. Externally the library is experienced literally in the round. Its cylindrical form reinforces the architectural reading of the building as a discrete object in the public plaza. This is an outstanding work of architecture and contributes significantly to the public realm.
Read the project review by Philip Vivian in Architecture Australia Sept/Oct 2016.