Rānui is a proud and progressive suburban community on the fringe of Auckland city and Waitakere ranges. An area with some challenging social issues – Census statistics gives it a deprivation index of 10 - it typifies the diversity within many of Auckland’s suburbs.
Rānui Pātaka Kōrero was commissioned to create a sense of identity at the town’s centre; an extensive engagement process was undertaken to integrate the community’s aspirations in to the design process, and to ensure a good level of their involvement in the formative stages of construction.
With the impetus for the collaboration driven by the Library team’s brief for integrated art, artist Nic Moon was commissioned to develop an installation which would reflect the local context, and which would be expressed in a unified and relevant way to the development.
In an ambitious project, Nic and Lars von Minden, brought together 500 volunteers to transpose 50 buckets of clay pigmented slurry onto the walls to create a series of six metre tree images filled with thousands of handprints laid by volunteers from the Rānui community. This artwork, along with a leaf motif introduced throughout the building’s design, forms part of the narrative for the building’s architecture, and allowed the community a rare insight into the construction of their new library.
The replacement library is four times larger than its predecessor, designed to serve a growing community with a high proportion of young people and low income families. Combining architectural, artistic and prosaic demands, the building is constructed with robust and recycled natural materials, which reflect the local historical references of kauri forests and market gardens.
Designed with sustainability in mind, pre-cast concrete panels, a scorched timber fireplace and courtyard fence - blackened in reference to burnt stumps of the forest - and a weathered steel façade provide a low maintenance and durable aesthetic. The façade’s leafed motif, designed with Nic Moon, stencils light patterns into the interior spaces.
The building’s interior has been designed as a comfortable living space with a flexibility for a range of activities, from group meetings to private study, and delivers a valuable IT resource to the community.
With a key driver to integrate cultural references into the project, the building, oriented to face Rānui’s Marae, introduces Tukutuku panels designed by Sunnah Thompson, and tell the story of the Kawarau E Maki people in the area.