Commissioned to be the central structure on the emerging campus of Queensland’s new Sunshine Coast University, this project rejects the tradition of libraries as internalised buildings (suggested in the campus master plan inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia University), and opens out the interior to relate to a surrounding plain and sunny skies. The offices of Lawrence Nield in Sydney and John Mainwaring in Noosa together intended to create a climate - and locality - responsive monument to the modern spirit of learning, and on that basis have generated a rugged, tectonic aesthetic of vitality, informality, transparency, complexity and lightness. The building acts as the most important focal point of information and technology exchange for the Maroochy Shire. In the master plan by Mitchell Giurgola and Thorp the library or “information exchange centre” was seen as a small “jewel” or symbolic centre in the great “Jefferson” avenue of the new Sunshine Coast University. With this as an idea it was hard to reflect the nexus between internal and external demands and in a sense implied an “internalised building”. The library building with a large proportion of storing (stacks), acquisition, cataloguing and very individual work areas, is an introverted building needing to engage the public domain of the University. “The architecture” explores the form of life that the building develops, increases, interprets, and reflects the manner of the building “Lawrence Nield referring to the “Poetics of Construction” (Frampton).
The University Building Committee and briefing consultant, Dr David Jones allowed explorations and interpretations beyond the norm. The design of sun-shaded reading rooms is inspired by Louis Kahn’s notion of “from silence to light” but the crucial symbolic space is external - a “grand Queensland veranda” which sets up the campus axis as a vista and establishes the library as a sociable, flexible focus of student culture. The tectonics of the building has captured the light and life of the Sunshine Coast.
The spatial dynamic consists of the juxtaposition of long slithers of space 7.2m wide. The rotating roof skillions also express these segments which, with the idea of a graduation of longitudinal spaces with varying degrees of transparency and translucency. The most open of these spaces is the main entrance or approach, which is like a grand “Queensland porch” incorporating bridge-like timbers and shade slats.