This project consists of a new 2,200 sqm library and fitness centre at the Epping campus of the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. The campus is situated adjacent to the Epping railway station and is within a growth corridor where an additional 25,000 residents in this area are expected within the next ten years, placing a demand on the growth of further vocational education and training places.
Since the original Campus library was established in 1992, teaching practices, emerging technologies and the role of information management professionals have changed, placing new and added expectations on library staffing and facilities. As such, NMIT sought to improve their outdated and overcrowded campus library with the goals of housing their growing book collection, improving student access to technology, and creating a central focus for the school.
The completed project creates a destination that attracts both students and teachers whilst also improving visibility of the campus from Dalton Road. On the east and west facades, the formal disposition of the building consists of a series of concave precast concrete panels which, in the manner of a carapace, protect the delicate interior library space from street noise and unwanted harsh light. By lifting up from the ground at strategic points, the street façade also allows the buildings inner workings to be revealed at night.
This shell both gives the library a striking aesthetic appropriate to its position at the entry to the campus and serves to taper the building’s scale in response to its context. The angular, sloping windows at the south emphasize the building entry and focus interior vistas obliquely toward view corridors.
Inside, the dramatic full-height glass, set back behind the pierced carapace brings natural light into the entry foyer. Internal plywood cladding helps to define space and provide boundaries without compromising supervision. With the circulation desk installed in the center of the space, librarians are now able to survey students while greeting anyone coming and going.
Teaching spaces are located to corners on the first floor and are filled with natural light. The building also incorporates a twenty-four hour technology lab for up to thirty-six students.
The library has been hugely successful in creating a focal point for this rambling campus, providing new instructional opportunities, and attracting student, staff, and community users. The natural light and spatial qualities have made it the most popular destination on campus.