NAAU’s proposal for the Green Square Library and public plaza competition, presented a public art strategy that is deeply embedded within the design of the building as a whole; entwined and inseparable from the aesthetic, function and environmental performance of the plaza and building as a unified design proposition. The key element of this strategy is the use of text as an aesthetic motif, acting as a functional and environmental performance element within the design. In the library’s traditional role as the community’s repository for and interface with information, text and typography have enormous historic resonance and offers significant potential in negotiating the project’s interaction in the wider urban domain. Text is imprinted in the building façade, on multiple levels. Across the western, northern and eastern facades a source text is arrayed across the facade with individual letters scaled subject to the cumulative heat load the façade experiences from the summer solstice to the equinox; the scaling of the letters increases or decreases the total solar permeably of the screening element; providing a highly calibrated passive solar screen fixed to the outer face of the building’s mullions. The scaling of the text also varies the legibility of the typography, oscillating between legibility and pattern – often teetering between decoration and content, but never fully either.
The library is a pivotal community asset, both in terms of the library’s traditional role as a repository and destination for gathering information, but also acting as a meeting place for the community. As a gathering place, the library holds enormous potential for acting as a symbolic emblem for the community. As an extension of this place for the community the plaza design is considered as a fluid series of discreet yet interconnected outdoor ‘living rooms’. Referencing the site’s heritage as a wetland, the design utilises a hydraulic generative analogy of eddies and flows. A series of variously sized gathering static (eddie) spaces are distributed throughout the plaza, where the current of urban life turns inward and slows down; accommodating different scale groups and activities; from spaces for farmers markets, a speakers corner, pockets for quite enjoyment of the sunshine, etc. The eddie spaces are interwoven with dynamic flow spaces, connecting key access points to the plaza; in a non-direct way, established a complex, interactive relationship between the static (eddie) and dynamic (flow) spaces; encouraging the community to meet, linger and develop a sense of ownership of the community’s living room.
Sustainability is integral to this vision for the library and community plaza. Whole of building life thinking has been applied to both the planning and façade design for the building, to minimise the long term impact of the project. This mode of decision making is proposed to be used for all future design decisions; prioritising onsite re-use or demolition waste, low-embodied energy materials, grey water recycling and further optimising of passive solar and natural ventilation strategies.
Ben Milbourne, John Doyle, Maura Martires
Completed Concept Design
City of Sydney