16th December 2016

See how an outdated library got a modern makeover with glass

Libraries have historically had a bit of an outdated or daggy connotation. Visuals of stale and dusty books come to mind, with people telling one another to be quiet and librarians hastily marching over to kick you out if you happen to break the library rules.

Moving forward to present times and this is no longer the case. Libraries have evolved into dynamic and buzzing meeting places, where the aim of the game is not only to borrow or source books – but also to work, meet, study, socialise or even just relax with a coffee.

With this in mind, the new and improved Rockdale library is ticking all the boxes. Located 17kms from Sydney’s CBD, Rockdale has now acquired one of the city’s finest libraries – with its outdated facility given a modern face lift – complete with Viridian glass. The designer behind this successful community hub, Andrew Hjorth of Brewster Hjorth Architects, explains the thinking behind the refurbishment.

“Libraries should be open, lively; they should be destinations. Those old-fashion libraries were places where you came, got your book, ran home and read it. Our modern libraries are community centers. People come into them, they use them as a resource in their own right,’

The main objective for Brewster Hjorth Architects was to connect people, connect the spaces and connect to their surrounds. It revolved heavily around how patrons would move around the library.

“Really, the important part of architecture is understanding those subtleties; understanding how people react and move through that type of building, is fundamental to its success,” Andrew explains.

To achieve this free-form flow throughout the space, transparency was key. Tall voids, study options and assorted meeting places were installed, each linking seamlessly into one another to create a real mecca for enthusiastic students, families, avid book worms and just the general community. But how did they achieve such transparency?

 “If you’re going to achieve that light transparent building, selection of the glass becomes fundamental to that decision process,” Andrew expressed.

With a strong focus on glazing, the library is made up of a bespoke glazing solution comprising of Viridian PerformaTechTM and Viridian ComfortHush.

 “The glass used was double-glazed units. The western façade, the highway-facing units use Viridian PerformaTech™ where there’s a large heat load – even with good sun shading. PerformaTech™ provided us with the performance we needed to overcome that heat load, and achieve our compliance requirements. That glass module includes laminated acoustic glass. The glazing is working hard thermally and acoustically to achieve what is required.”

There was a strong need to strike a balance between places of quiet study while still achieving an uplifting social mood. Creating diversity of experience is key to the libraries success.

“PerformaTech™ on the outside of the building provides a kind of clear armour if you like, while internally the study rooms use an acoustic glass. It’s about using the right products and materials for the task. Being adjacent to one of Sydney’s major roads, with overhead aircraft noise and Mascot Airport close by, required a glazing system with the best possible thermal and acoustic properties.”

With a community spirit driving the entire design process, Andrew wanted to achieve a sense of openness throughout each level, insisting glass was a driving factor behind it’s success.

“Glass is really important in achieving that. You could have a box with no windows and you wouldn’t achieve the same thing. You want to see all of the activities from the street. You want it to feel welcoming and vibrant as you’re walking along the streets, so that main elevation is a very important part of the project.”

Now with it’s modern facelift this once outdated facility is a thriving meeting spot for the Rockdale community to enjoy.

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