Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Case: Bankstown Library & Knowledge Center

The Library as Urban Developer

Located in the heart of the city, the development of Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre serves to revitalise a dislocated site and create a rich spatial experience for community members and visitors.

The design was to create a sustainable building with a distinct architectural character and to develop an accessible and inviting public space.  As a result the Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre is not just a repository for books but a hybrid community hub which plays a significant role within the Bankstown civic precinct. Sustainable design principles and innovative high performance environmental systems were used to create an integrated and flexible cultural asset for the local community.

Our inspiration for the design came from the natural landscape and the adjacent parkland. We wanted to make an open and inviting new library that is a little like gathering under the canopy of two great trees, with the folded patterning of red and aluminium sunscreens similar to the shade given by the patchwork of leaves.

The design of the library is reminiscent of the canopy of trees. Photo by Christian Mushenko


The Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre sets new benchmarks in Public Building sustainable design through the adaptive reuse, salvage, recycling and renovation of the existing Bankstown Town Hall.

A bespoke strategy underpins The Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre architectural design and sets a new benchmark for applying “found” and “recycled” materials to hybrid public building projects. An opportunity to reuse materials from the existing Town Hall became apparent in the initial stages of development.

High quality materials salvaged from the existing Town Hall include; Australian hardwood timbers, precast concrete facade panels, aluminium roof sheeting and stainless steel joinery. The new timber internal floor finishes are composed of over 95% salvaged material.  The salvaging and reuse of existing materials honours the sites history and reconnects the community with this previously utilitarian space.

Supporting this, were initiatives focused on improving the indoor environmental quality such as; the green wall, displacement air conditioning and high performance insulated and shaded facade systems.

Adaptive reuse, salvage, recycling and renovation shaped the interior design and development of the library. The central atrium is defined by two curvaceous feature columns (trees) with their sinuous level 5 plaster forms rising from the salvaged structural timber pedestals.

Flexibility at the library

The design offers an integrated and flexible space containing; a new library over three levels, a three-hundred seat theatre, community conference facilities, new cafe and a community information wall. Other public domain improvements include; the redevelopment of Paul Keating Park, with the addition of an aquatic sculpture garden, new street trees and off-street parking for sixty-four cars and an all-weather bus drop-off zone.

Demolishing the existing auditorium cleared the way for the new library form to be projected forward on the podium.  This enabled a new articulation of the northern and southern edges of the building to define the new urban spaces in and around the immediate footprint of the building.

The new podium arrangement complements the physical scale and modulation of the overall precinct whilst visually connects with its new locale. The positioning and elevation of the new library volume complements the existing building by proportionally applying the modulation and geometric texture of the existing building facades. This new podium arrangement minimises environmental effects such as overshadowing public open spaces, whilst the southern area of the existing building expands to enhance the public domain provisions and pedestrian connectivity in the area.

Library’s interplay with Urban Space - Community Hub

The landscaping connects the building with the open setting and cultivates a shared sense of place and community. Linking the site to the Paul Keating Park facilitates urban pedestrian movement and simplified vehicle access. The reading garden is characterised by heavily scented and oiled shrubs, ground covers and native trees to mitigate the impact of vehicle emissions on users.

The Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre forges a symbiotic relationship with the material of the existing building and its contextual setting. The project ultimately opens up the Bankstown Civic precinct to the wider community, encouraging access to what has previously been considered an uninviting and run down space.  The transparent glass facade draws in natural light and offers a visual connection with the external environment.

Performative spaces

The ground floor reading spaces are all characterized by soft filtered light and panoramic views through the atrium across the ‘infinity edge’ of the aquatic sculpture garden toward Paul Keating Park and the podium forecourt.  The spaces are designed to be flexible and facilitate activities such as poetry readings and musical performances.

The three hundred seat auditorium theatre is another performative space which fosters a sense of community and invites cultural experiences to take place.

Meeting space

The cafe on the ground level provides a space whereby visitors can interact and collaborate in a relaxed environment.
The library also contains a children’s reading room (complete with a sunken rubber play pit), an IT lab (access to 50 computers), conference rooms (includes storage, digital projection, smart boards for presentations and kitchenette) and private/group study space.  The interior of the library provides a sustainable gateway to the new information age and imparts a certain monumentality to this significant open public domain.

14. Mar 2018 at. 09:43

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