The Central Library is the first significant Civic building built in Whangarei in 30 years. Occupying an important public and cultural space, the design process has involved consultation with community, iwi and local stakeholders that looked at not just the library but also the public and cultural space surrounding the library. In addition, iwi and local artists were brought into the design process to develop the buildings form and aesthetic, in particular, the patterning of the pre-cast concrete walls.
The building is designed around three zones representative of the 'kete wananga' or three baskets of knowledge - with specialist collections and staff work areas located in the outer most areas and general collections in the centre.
Furthermore, the large central roof of the library slides up and over the rear of the old library, forming a covered plaza that can be used for civic and cultural events.
The design team worked to find solutions to natural lighting for public enjoyment while allowing environmental control and book conservation. Reducing the north windows to vertical incisions, using low e-glass, fine louvres and shading from the mature planting in the park, all work to mitigate heat gain. The building is ventilated using a displacement air system. Underfloor ducts and wall grills support cool air rising up between the mezzanine floor plates and out through the opening clerestory windows.
Within the library, two central staircases leading to the upper floor are extended upward with skylights above. Thought of as the two aka matua, or sacred vines to learning, these create a dramatic and inspirational space for library users.
- 2007 New Zealand Property Council – Education and Arts – Excellence Award
- 2006 NZIA – Resene Local Award for Architecture – Community and Cultural