The Exchange at Darling Square, designed by BVN is now open. The new library and community hub has its official launch on Saturday 9 November with City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.
As part of the Darling Harbour urban renewal development plan, BVN worked closely with the City of Sydney and Lendlease to design a contemporary new library and community hub. This exciting project aims to address the City of Sydney’s strategic goals; providing a place for their innovative collection, offer cutting edge technology and digital resources to educate and connect the community, deliver an innovative program of events and services to engage the community and provide welcoming spaces and facilities to enhance liveability of the city.
The hive shaped space sits over two levels of a Kengo Kuma and Associates designed building in a new and exciting area of the CBD. BVN’s design creates a seamless connection with base building while inserting playful and colourful elements that are synonymous with City of Sydney Libraries character and vision to create welcoming spaces for learning, discovery, creativity and fun.
Replacing the current Haymarket library, the 2150m² space is four times the size of its predecessor and hosts a collection of over 30,000 items, meeting rooms, a children’s area and makerspace.
‘The new library is a crucial community resource for the city’s residents, workers, students, and visitors to relax, connect and knowledge share,’ says BVN Principal Abbie Galvin.
‘The space is designed to be inclusive of an incredibly diverse group of all ages, backgrounds and occupations due to its setting amongst a major tourism hub, multi-residential buildings, the CBD and universities.’
The main library entrance on level 1 houses a makerspace in the centre of the building’s circular floor. Its interior contains an agile multi-purpose space, while its exterior dips and bends to form a series of nooks for independent work and retreat. Windows are inserted into the exterior plywood shell that enable sight lines in and across the wider library environment.
‘The makerspace is one of the first things you see when entering the library and immediately signals that this is a place for innovation and collaboration. It’s a place to make, learn, tinker and engage with emerging technologies,’ says Abbie.
A bright blue central stair creates a dynamic connection between levels 1 and 2 and provides clear wayfinding for library visitors. Book displays are integrated into the stair balustrade as another opportunity to house the library’s expanded collection.
On level 2 visitors will find the children’s area: a place of discovery, learning and play. Warm plywood, flashes of bright yellow and blue and a mirrored ceiling provide a fun and vibrant backdrop for young children and their families. Flexible furniture and large lounges create open space for intimate settings as well as large rhyme time groups to meet.
Also on level 2 is the main storage for the library’s collections. Low height bookshelves enable extensive views of the surrounding Darling Square precinct from almost all areas of the library.
Both levels have access to outdoor balconies spanning the circumference of the building. Café seating and plenty of power make these another space to work, learn and socialise while enjoying views and fresh air.
Technology enabled meeting rooms and multi-purpose rooms across both floors can be easily configured into a variety of modes making them ideal for groups ranging from schools to professional training sessions.
‘We are delighted to see the building already full and being embraced by the community from the minute it opened its doors. The space is designed to make people feel welcome and connected to one another and their community, to support the library’s ongoing programs and to enable continual adaption,’ said Abbie.