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Monday, April 27, 2015

Architectural Renewal Project

Compiled by Pari Syal
Photography: Courtesy schmidt hammer lassen architects

New Central Library lit up during the evening hours

The New Central Library in New Zealand is being designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects as a vibrant city recognizing, in particular, the Ngai Tahu heritage and places of social and historical significance…

The New Central Library (NCL) is positioned as one of the anchor projects in the Recovery Plan for the city of Christchurch after its damaging earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

New Central Library lit up during daytime

The previous Central Library on Gloucester Street was badly damaged and the land it stands on has been designated for the city's new convention centre. The design concept for the Recovery Plan is for a greener, more accessible city with a compact city centre and a strong identity.

The NCL site sits on the northern edge of Cathedral Square – Christchurch´s key civic space defined by Christchurch’s Cathedral. The NCL looks to develop a visual and conceptual connection to culturally significant points in the Canterbury landscape and beyond, which has driven the location and orientation of the roof terraces and large openings.

New Central Library

Through extensive public and stakeholder engagement, four key themes have been identified to be incorporated into the design of the library – these are: dynamically connected for discovery and learning; a fusion of spaces for every function; equipped for every purpose; and a welcoming place.

As flagship of the Christchurch library network, NCL will provide an important civic function as a social gathering point in the rebuilt city. It will provide easy access to digital technologies and local heritage collections. There will be exhibition and performance spaces, a learning centre, indoor and outdoor spaces to relax and activities to entertain and educate young people.

main foyer of New Central Library

The Library is designed with strong references to the Ngai Tahu´s social and cultural traditions incorporating three significant components that are exponential to this culture: an urban carpet – where the ground floor of the NCL is treated as a continuation of the public realm of the square creating a welcoming and informal entrance and a strong connection between Cathedral Square, the NCL, and the city’s new convention centre. The ground floor will house the foyer, reception, café, meeting rooms and a Technology & Innovation department.

Secondly, the design strongly expresses the Community Arena as the city´s place of discussion, debate and celebration with a strong connection to the civic space of Cathedral Square. The Community Arena is situated in between the Ground floor and the Pataka in order to enhance the position and importance of this function. It also includes activity rooms and the Children & Youth department. It’s oriented with a large, glazed opening toward the square in order for library activities to be part of and enliven the square.

Interiors of New Central Library

Thirdly, the Pataka, for Ngai Tahu, symbolizes a knowledge storehouse raised upon posts. Therefore these upper three floors enclose the Oceania floor and the majority of the NCL´s collections, reading rooms and a creative area. Roof terraces and the western facade are oriented towards the distant views and wider context, while the staggered atrium creates a strong vertical journey connecting “Mother Earth with Father Sky”.  The southern facade defines the northern edge of Cathedral Square supporting the definition of the Maltese Cross.

The Library is designed with materials closely related to New Zealand’s nature and range of colours. Exposed concrete up against warm timber, partly on floors and ceilings will reflect an atmosphere of authenticity and cultural embracement.

Interiors of New Central Library

The exterior and the cladding of the Pataka will have warm landscape hues with reference to nature.

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