An Exercise in Contrasts: State Library Victoria by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Architectus
The State Library Victoria, Australia’s oldest and largest public library, has officially reopened its doors to the public in Melbourne. After a comprehensive transformation by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Architectus, the redesigned spaces are the result of a five-year renovation plan that aimed to create an open, accessible experience for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds, according to Ruth Wilson, Principal and Melbourne Studio Leader at Architectus.
The main idea behind the concept was to connect the historical library rooms with contemporary architectural narratives. Elif Tinaztepe, a partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen, calls it “an exercise in contrasts”. Clear spatial divisions with physical as well as visual zones break through the once-fragmented existing structures of the State Library Victoria.
The heart of the new design centred on the Victoria Gallery, the Russell Street entrance, the library courtyard, the Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter, the Isabella Fraser Room and, in particular, the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which has again been made accessible after 16 years.