Architect: John Wardle Architects
Building: Melbourne Grammar, Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Year Completed: 2008
*photo from John Wardle Architects Website
The brief involved designing a new entry threshold to the grounds of Melbourne Grammar school, consolidate library resources into one area and to provided additional supporting lecture and seminar space for the campus. The concept of the design looks at the idea of how the subject of learning becomes the face of the campus through a transparent library envelope. The emphasis is on providing an active space with access to knowledge in a variety of media, electronic as well as traditional forms. The library elevation is an open glass facade that exposes rows of books as well as thriving companion activities, symbolically representing both a repository of knowledge and a shift to a more open and engaging institution.
The newly designed entry to the campus is located on Domain Road, expressed as a slice through the building which leads into and opens up to the west quadrangle’s historical facade. This element in the design was innovative in the sense that custom bricks were made to achieve and very specific glaze. A new bonding pattern for the bricks were also created in this part of the project so that the stacking pattern of the bricks were to reflect the pattern of the way books were actually stacked in the library. The design here demonstrates the notion of reciprocity, threshold as well as materiality.
The brick facade is a traditional use of materials that tie together the building with the surrounding important landmarks located within close proximity of the site. The entrance also provides a threshold delineating a change from the streetscape to the interior of the campus, but not completely sectioning off and enclosing the space. It provides a path of transition for the buildings users yet with it’s of series of inter-linked pavilions, still allows the continuation of the scale and rhythm of the school’s frontage to Domain Road. John Wardle Architects also devised an efficient method for achieving a fold in a brick façade by using computer modelling to determine the exact angle of the crank and developed a single custom brick to negotiate the change in direction.
*photo from Think Brick Website
John Wardle Architects also use a mixed range of materials. From traditional masonry (brick) to steel columns and textured glass. The design goes to considerable lengths to capture the multitude of landscape and contextual views available and cleverly blends old and new together visually. A glass link for administrative functions brushes close to the intricate roof pediments and quoining of the original quadrangle building; the quadrangle building is framed by the main entry of the new building. Every detail is intended to orient the students not just towards learning, but to the city, its history and beyond.
Reflective glass louvers provides two functions: allow cinematic views to the gardens and at the same time protecting some privacy from the street. Main body of the library comprises a series of giant steel framed windows of varying shapes with a series of overlaid patterns to glass within. The patterning alludes to the random ashlar block work of the buildings on site. From the inside, the various windows frame serves a different views to the greenery garden beyond.
Main book collections in the library are stored in the book stack pavilion which is clad in a burnished brick with its own bond. The bond includes several vertical bricks stacked on end and the main wall folds back to highlight these book-like bricks set into the surface.
Sources of photo and information all from various websites and flickr profiles.