The design, made by a team led by Jon Rennie, is bold in that it makes no concessions to the town. In modern public architecture, context is everything and, usually, buildings are weighted with history – references to previous uses of the site and to the buildings that surround it.
A report prepared in 2010 by Salmond Reed recommended just that – a building that would reflect the vocabulary and design elements of the shops in Victoria Road on which it stands. Athfield Architects would have none of that.
Instead of a design that looks for context in the street, Athfields’ building belongs to the trees. While architects and councils were building and rebuilding on the site, Phoenix palms planted to the front were growing, as was the Moreton Bay fig tree to one side, the po-hutukawa to the other and the plane trees at the back, among others.
The new library nestles among these palms and trees. Clad in North American red cedar, it has no truck with the painted and plastered buildings of the main street: it is a building that, visually, is in the town but not of it.
— Excerpt form Architecture Now
The Building Intelligence Group
Architecture New Zealand
May 2015 (Issue 3)
2016 NZIA National Finalist