St George’s Library
Balonne Shire Council
St George, QLD
Interrupting the line of frontages along main street, the library precinct makes the enormously important civic gesture of gently opening up the site and pulling the visitor into a landscaped space framed by the library on one hand and existing town hall on the other. This piece of place making is almost more important than the buildings. The new work addresses this space with a playful facade of shaped blade columns, abstracted from the local concrete weir, a shopfront of deep shadowed awnings fronting a simply framed skillion container.
Internally, a light filled volume is defined in warm timber, white and dashes of colour. Local libraries have to meet so many expectations in a small footprint. A generous focus on early childhood is absolutely key to both developing lifelong learners and as a meeting place to build social networks. This is where community starts in a small town. Here a huge brightly framed picture window welcomes kids into the fun early childhood space, configured for all the pragmatics of parents, kids, prams, feeding and nappy change. The opportunities of flexible school age maker-space and smaller teen hangouts are lined up with the service spaces along the back boundary wall, leaving the high pitched collection space open with views across the courtyard. An all-hours access component provides meeting rooms and remote tertiary study with a reading pod projecting out to the street. Add local history and even a few books- this local library leverages everything it can from the footprint.
The usual time and budget challenges of grant funding, decision-making, remote construction, difficult site conditions, value management, supply chain issues, all added to a project already highly anticipated and under intense scrutiny from the local public. It’s easy to take for granted the achievement of delivering regional work but investments like this don’t come along every day in a regional town, and when they do every bit matters.
Photographer: Dust to Dawn Photography