By The Book
Belle Magazine Australia|May 2020
Rethinking the way we design and use libraries has converted them into all-important cultural, economic and social hubs.
GEORGINA SAFE

WHEN I LEFT a full-time job to go freelance several years ago, I began working from my local public library. Every weekday morning, I would queue outside Surry Hills Library on bustling Crown Street in Sydney. At precisely 10am I joined the stream of gig-economy workers coursing through the doors beneath a green wall of plants and a spectacular atrium made up of a series of glass prisms. But admiring the architecture of the Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp-designed building wasn’t my priority: my mission was to secure one of the precious powerpoints at the street-side desks with views onto the adjacent park, for which demand far exceeded supply.

“People today are not just reading books in [libraries], but running businesses, creating products, making music and holding meetings,” says Stewart Architecture director Felicity Stewart, whose firm designed Sydney’s Green Square Library in association with Stewart Hollenstein.

“In an increasingly secular society, the library is replacing the church as a community gathering space that offers a non-commercial alternative to other places such as shopping malls,” she adds. “In a library you can be a citizen, be a creator and be social without having to be a customer.”

Libraries today are hot property. Far from dusty, they are edgy and conceptual spaces attracting top design talent and technology, with amenities ranging from rooftop gardens and communal kitchens to recording studios and 3D printers. As the trend to small-space living continues apace, libraries have become crucial Third Spaces that offer world-class facilities designed to foster connection and community in an increasingly isolated and fragmented society.

“Libraries have become urban living rooms,” says City of Sydney deputy lord mayor Jess Scully. “They are now designed to accommodate a much stronger social offering beyond simply a space to sit and read or study, and they need to be flexible enough for multiple uses and multiple age groups.”

When Green Square Library opened in 2018, it included an open air amphitheatre, a subterranean garden, a music room with a baby grand piano, a computer lab and a six-storey glass tower – a beacon for the 50,000 residents of one of Sydney’s fastest-growing urban areas.

“Green Square presented an opportunity to carve out an entire new town centre and putting the library at the heart of it provided a setting to ask designers to rethink what a library could be in the most open and exciting way,” says Felicity.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BELLE MAGAZINE AUSTRALIAView All

DAYS OF HEAVEN

A new build in the Adelaide Hills presents the opportunity to create an interior befitting the home’s glorious surrounds.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

CHERRY ON TOP

Set against neutral tones, the final flourish on this newly renovated heritage home in Melbourne is a bright pop of powerfully accented red.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

Double vision

Two in one has a special significance for this home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. One of a pair by the same practice, it also has both public and private personas.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

Breaking out

An elevated platform in the warehouse office of Studio Prineas creates a dedicated zone for staff to congregate and collaborate.

2 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

nature spirit

Embraced by its bushy hinterland habitat, a newly built family home radiates an aura of peace and harmony.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

LIFE ENHANCING

An elegant layering of lush patterns, rich colours and bespoke pieces has enveloped this home in warmth and created a welcoming ambience for a large extended family.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

PENTHOUSE pleasures

This lofty retreat presented fertile potential but also posed some tricky challenges for its enterprising designer.

3 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

SECOND CHANCES

Contemporary artwork and new openings have lightened the mood at this renovated 1930s family home in Melbourne.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

Silver lining

With a look of maturity that belies its youth, an additional wing to a humble cottage, plus inspired makeovers inside and out, have transported this property to another realm.

3 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022

WHITER SHADE of PALE

A neutral palette promotes a calm and elegant mood in this expansive Sydney home that is furnished with a judicious selection of antiques juxtaposed against contemporary art.

4 mins read
Belle Magazine Australia
May 2022
RELATED STORIES

Drama Down Under

In Sydney, a meticulously restored historic home sets the stage for interventions that are as fashionable as they are theatrical.

4 mins read
Elle Decor
April 2022

Border Conflicts

“Covid Zero” kept Australia safe, if isolated, for 18 months. Now its states are split over how to move on

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
September 20, 2021

Sidney – Catch the Wave

Business meets beach culture in sun-splashed Sydney.

4 mins read
Global Traveler
August 2021

Khloe & Tristan: BETRAYED AGAIN!

KHLOÉ KARDASHIAN IS LIVID AFTER AN INSTA MODEL CLAIMS TRISTAN THOMPSON IS BACK TO HIS CHEATING WAYS.

3 mins read
Star
May 17, 2021

5 completely honest confessions from Ruth Righi

You know Ruth Righi best as Sydney Reynolds on Disney’s Sydney to the Max (back on Disney Channel for a third season starting March 19). And while the 15-year-old actually has a lot in common with her onscreen alter ego (to start, they're both biracial and amazing bass players), we decided it was time to dig even deeper. Below are five brutally honest, real-life confessions straight from Ruth herself.

2 mins read
Girls' Life magazine
April/May 2021

BRAD & JEN'S SECRET DAUGHTER!

Stars dote on look-alike as she graduates college

2 mins read
Globe
June 29, 2020

Hustle and Heart

Monica Peraza O’Quigley loves the challenge of creating new companies. With her latest, the Etho, she’s zeroing in on her goal to empower women worldwide.

3 mins read
Inc.
May - June 2020

Scene & Heard

BEHIND the SCENES!

4 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
April 20, 2020

LOVE

My pets are my own true loves.

1 min read
Muse Science Magazine for Kids
March 2020

Slice Of Sydney

As the smoke clears, the draw of Australia’s largest city for both business and leisure comes into focus

7 mins read
Business Traveler
March 2020