Location Sydney, Australia
Program Design Competition for Sydney Green library and public plaza

Rather than a civic monument anchoring a plaza, this building articulates two edges of a vibrant and connected space for people. The building is a gateway from the rail station at the northeast, an urban wall and sound buffer along Botany Road, a curvilinear ‘living wall’ growing along the transit corridor, an axis termination from the Drying Green, and a transparent mate delivering vitality to the plaza.


Siting. The building and entrance on the northeast corner establishes a gateway for southbound travelers on Botany Road, is closest to public transportation hubs, and terminates the axis from Drying Green. The ground floor is elevated to 15m, providing an elegant rise from the sidewalk as well as flood protection. The basement area is minimized along the northern edge and requires only an approximately 3m cut.

Culture. Emerging from the earth and the east, the curvilinear Gadigal Wall along the transportation corridor recognizes Sydney’s indigenous heritage. Fully formed and sheathed with rich tiles, it is interrupted by the elevator shaft representing European settlement. It re-emerges intact but porous to the west, representing the Sydney’s present and future diversity.

City. Meeting rooms with insulated glazing are organized along Botany Road to complete the street wall. The rooms provide light and activity to the street after hours and a sound buffer for the open library functions beyond. The café is convenient for both library visitors and all passers-by, giving life to the street and assuring a more commercially viable rental space. The glazed entry atrium + signage marks the intersection of the transport corridor and Botany Road and signals this is an unabashedly urban building.

Water. The detention pipe easement is articulated as a bioswale containing natural grasses that will absorb excess rainwater, reduce impervious surfaces, provide added flood protection and a soft public connection from road to park. This easement also provides a ‘through site public passage’ as requested in the competition brief that can be easily closed for private functions and served by the café.

Youth. The youth functions are acoustically isolated in their own bright pavilion, but easily accessible to and from the plaza with a grass roofed and partially covered terrace above. Both the functions on the building’s eastern edge and its architectural expression will help add life to the plaza.

Sustainability. The 3 story entry atrium contains operable glazing to control cross ventilation.
The Gadigal Wall is topped with 90 solar panels accessible to the sun more than 7 months per year and producing about 15,000 KwH annually.The large gently sloped roof over the flexible seating area is capable of collecting 600,000 liters of rainwater to be stored for irrigation or grey water in two 150m long x 1.6m pipes stacked next to the diversion pipe in the easement.
Ample glazing on the south and west, carefully screened from direct sun, reduces electrical lighting loads and associated heat.