The Westgate Town Square and Library is the anchoring civic component of the development of a new town centre at Westgate.
This project will not only establish a benchmark for the future urban form but it will also establish its human qualities, its sense of place and provide a core community destination - the design is motivated by the desire for a dynamic, exciting and sustainable new civic environment which will serve the Westgate community for 100 years.
The new library building is compositionally arranged as a 3 level volume fronting the Town Square together with a two storey volume addressing Waru St. The main entrance is located at the corner of the site, facing the main Town Square space. This provides maximum legibility for the entrance while also adding the ‘energy of movement’ to the public open space. The most effective contemporary libraries are easily understood and navigated and are defined by clear lines of sight and excellent natural light.
The building is distinctively a ‘stacked’ form, breaking down the overall building mass and allowing clear expression of the individual floor plates and their particular activities. This floor plate configuration generates a dynamic relationship at the building’s corner, expressing the life of the library to the outside world. The building’s openness also reflects the philosophy that good public libraries are open and vibrant with community life by both night and day. This visual openness and legibility also supports engagement with the community, encouraging access and creating a welcoming destination that is both comfortable and familiar for all users.
The building form, materiality and colour also seek to reflect the informal and colourful culture of West Auckland and Waitakere. Anodised aluminium panels, zinc cladding, timber soffits and expressed concrete structure combine to provide a substantial and visually exciting architecture.
However, this informality is countered by the need for ‘civic substance’. The clear rhythm of concrete columns facing the town square reinforces the order and stability of a civic institution. This is seen as particularly important in a ‘greenfields’ situation where there are no existing ‘cues’ for civic life. Above all else, the new library building has the responsibility to capture the aspirations of a future community. To this end, its architecture cannot be transient but must embody the recognised motifs of community, tradition and civic character. Achieving these values in a contemporary way is the core challenge of the project.
The building is the pilot project for the development of the new ‘Custom’ rating tool for the New Zealand Green Building Council.
Sustainability is a central value of this project, and our team has pioneered the ‘new age library’ in New Zealand over the past ten years. The ground has shifted, however, from simple energy conservation to the careful consideration of how a new library can act as a catalyst by having a positive impact on the immediate and wider context. At Westgate, this is achieved by considering the building and public spaces as an educational opportunity for the community. Libraries are about knowledge and learning and our concept considers the opportunity for a ‘sustainability journey’ to be incorporated into the building and public open space. The educational aspects of this concept allow the project to be a living ‘billboard’ for sustainability that can influence all of the development sites that define the town square and wider town centre.
The ambitious environmental and social aims of the project represent an opportunity to continue the legacy of leadership in the built environment shown by the Waitakere Council within the new Auckland ‘Supercity’ framework.
Principal and Executive Director
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