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06 Dec 2019

State Library Victoria reopens after Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Architectus revamp
BY Stu Robarts

The original paintwork of the 163-year-old Ian Potter Queen’s Hall has been revealed

The original paintwork of the 163-year-old Ian Potter Queen’s Hall has been revealed

State Library Victoria, in Melbourne, Australia, has reopened after being revamped by Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Australian studio Architectus to expand its community outreach and enhance the visitor experience.

The work is part of a five-year redevelopment plan and focused on a number of spaces within the library, which comprises 23 individual buildings and occupies an entire city block.

The aim was to better weave together the spaces within the library to provide a clear narrative for visitors as they pass through the library and to create "a clear hierarchy of thresholds and spaces".

Elif Tinaztepe, partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen, explained: "Our work is deeply contextual, so we dedicated ourselves to studying this historical institution and understanding its important place in the cultural landscape of Melbourne.

"Our aim with the transformation of State Library Victoria was to allow the heritage spaces to stand out in their raw beauty while complementing them with a strong contemporary design line to help carry this beloved institution into the future. Respecting the authenticity of the spaces and existing design elements was our guiding principle."

Among the work carried out has been the stripping back and reopening of the library's 163-year-old Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, revealing its original paintwork, and the reopening of a 1910 marble staircase that provides access to the library's dome, with its original marble retained revealed beneath a new overlay.

Work has also been carried out on the Russell Street entrance, the Quad, which connects all four of the library’s activity courtyards, and the Isabella Fraser Room.

Ruth Wilson, principal and Melbourne studio leader at Architectus, said: "The library has been evolving for more than 160 years and with this restoration now complete, we have prepared the library for its future uses, cementing its position in Melbourne’s history as the centre of inspiration and education."



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