Te Pātaka Kōrero o Te Hau Kapua Devonport Library
Athfield Architects won the commission for the Devonport Library through an invited competition in January 2013. The brief asked the architectural team to not only replace the existing building but to challenge preconceptions about libraries, to be innovative and provide a range of flexible community spaces — creating a new ‘21st Century’ library that embraces the digital age. At the same time an approved and designated (Resource Management Act) footprint, bulk and height had to be complied with along with specific consideration of the heritage area and significant scheduledtrees.
Our proposal was for a ‘pavilion’ that sits in the park of Windsor Reserve. Rather than a traditional ‘sanctuary’ behind solid walls this 21st Century library is conceived as a ‘verandah’ that addresses the street, park and sea — providing multiple entries and breaking down barriers between the public and the physical and digitalcollection.
Following selection the design team worked extensively and collaboratively with Auckland Libraries and consulted with internal council and external public stakeholders. Through this process the design team listened to feedback and comment, tested alternatives and developments and proposed improvements on the initial competition design. Fourteen consultation workshops were held with all sectors and age groups of the Devonport and wider community. The project was very high profile with widespread interest and many opinions on the proposals. Throughout the process Athfield Architects worked with the client, local board, council and stakeholders to clearly communicate and explain design rationale, options and the reasons fordecisions.
The library opened in February 2015 and has been roundly and positively received by the community. 35,000 people visited the library in the first month, new memberships have increased ten-fold and it has received extensive positive publicity in themedia.
Auckland Libraries’ new service model, a ‘retail’ approach to the planning and display of the collection, has informed the design — providing an open and flexible 950m2 interior, with a range of diverse spaces on two levels, for all sectors of the community. These spaces include a large daylight reading room, acoustically separated study spaces, a sunlit browsing space, specific teen and children’s areas and a community room that is available after hours for events and performances of up to 100 people. An external reading courtyard extends the library into the park. Naturally ventilated, the building design has adopted a best practice sustainable approach in line with Auckland Libraries Sustainablepolicies.