North Fitzroy Community Hub by GroupGSA | Indesignlive

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Making ‘The Library’ Cool, Again: North Fitzroy Community Hub by GroupGSA

GroupGSA creates a multimodal and creative space—North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub project—for the inner city Melbourne.

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton

  • Photography by Tom Hutton



BY Emily O'Brien

September 7th, 2017


North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub, on St Georges Road, North Fitzroy in Melbourne, showcases a spectacular architectural and landscape design. This GroupGSA project incorporates a library, maternal/child health facility and a variety of community-focused facilities, including a new home for the City Of Yarra’s International House. Replacing a shopfront branch library with new functions and public facilities, this project is the culmination of a long-standing community initiative to create a true community hub and redesign its library.

Remarkable features of the $16+ million development include merging cellular supporting spaces with open flexible spaces to increase usability as well as the retention of heritage elements, thoughtfully merged with modern and sustainable design features. Noteworthy materials involved recycled brickwork, perforated brass, cellular polycarbonate and polished and etched precast concrete. Shading and screening played an important role because the main facades of the triangular building face east and west—there was a strong desire for maximising natural light and visual connectivity.

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“The perforation patterns were inspired by a walk through Edinburgh gardens and a desire to recreate the dappled light experienced when sitting beneath a tree canopy. Patterns were custom generated using an algorithm to control the size of aperture and overall transparency,” says Michael Mandl, Director of GroupGSA.

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Mandl also feels that the brickwork resonates with the spirit of the area. Locally sourced recycled bricks contain circular openings that are all self-supporting brick forms. “We are pleased by the quality of the brickwork and that we brought it into the interior of the building to be enjoyed visually and to be touched,” says Mandl.

The tight and unusually shaped wedge shaped site posed a complex range of design challenges including housing numerous functions. With a strong emphasis on universal access, maternal/child health facilities and two playgroup rooms were created, along with community facilities with large dividable spaces and a shared community office.

GroupGSA’s focus on community integration has resulted in the project receiving the highest level of environmentally sustainable design, receiving a 6-Star Green Star rating as well as Best Practice Universal Access. Green initiatives include water management, shading systems, on-site power generation and a pressurised air handling system. Changing facilities, lifts as fire escapes, hearing loops, luminance materials and onsite generator back up all aided in receiving the award for Best Practice Universal Access.

“It can not go unmentioned how hard and long the local community and council worked to make this facility a reality. The community also played a strong hand in the shepherding of the design, working with council and designers through the design process. Group GSA’s principal designer on this project presented the design thinking and resolutions openly during the design development, and the community members came along with the process asking important questions and challenging assertions. This community consultation process enriched the design outcome,” says Mandl.


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