Rototuna Library and Community Hub Concept Proposal

The community library is a typology in flux. Far from the conventional repository for books, the community library is now reimagined in myriad ways to encourage participation and engagement.


Project Details

Client Hamilton City Council
Sector Culture & Community
Location Rototuna, Hamilton
Discipline Architecture
Status Design competition completed 2020
Design Collaborators Haumi

He mātauranga te kai, he kai te mātauranga. Sustaining the mind, the body and the soul.

Hamilton City Council invited Jasmax to participate in a design competition for their new Rotouna Library and Community Hub. Our design response is reflective of the community it serves. Steeped in heritage and cultural narrative we imagined a space that radiates unity, identity and belonging.

Our architectural response brings together the historic ecology of the site and its role as a sustainer of life for the people of Ngāti Wairere and the future vision for the site as a sustainer of learning and community for the people of Rototuna into three key architectural elements, the pāwhara, the wetlands and the space between.

The name Rototuna and archaeological records suggest a fertile environment, wetland conditions, and an abundance of food and resources that supported the thriving communities of Ngāti Wairere.


The development of the site into a library and community hub aims to create a civic and cultural heart for Rototuna Village. Libraries and community hubs play fundamental roles in sustaining culture, as well as generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge. Technology has driven libraries to evolve from repositories of knowledge to ‘community living rooms’ – places that support a wide range of activities that sustain mind, body and soul.

The harvesting of eels would have been an important activity for Ngāti Wairere throughout the year. The preparation and maintenance of eel traps, the trapping of eels according to the Māori calendar, the processing of eel meat and the drying and storing of eels would have been a collective activity, including most of the tribal members.



The pāwhara, the wetlands and the space between

The pāwhara, or preserved eel, a symbol of sustenance for the people of this area inspires the roof design. A bold form, it acts as a marker for the building and the civic space it occupies. The black metal skin of the pāwhara protects the environment within. The warm timber ‘flesh’ of the ceiling warms the interior, with rich detail and patination that references hīnaki, used to create a uniquely New Zealand architecture and acknowledges the skilled weavers of Ngāti Wairere. The dynamic, folded roof form is rationalised to enable a cost-effective structure.

The wetlands are conceptually restored as a reminder of the historic environment of the area, creating a continuous undulating landscape from inside to outside, merging with the contents of the library to create a seamless landscape of learning. Air flows gently across the wetlands and filters through the façade, cooling the interior.

Formed between the continuous wetland and the folded pāwhara roof, the interior spaces support the full range of activities that a library and community hub must provide.

Where roof and ground come together, the design provides intimate, protected spaces where people can undertake quiet, focused and individual activities. It also provide moments of fun and delight for children to explore.

Where the roof and ground opens-up, the height, openness and outlook provide opportunities for large gatherings and events. These ‘open’ frontages activate the primary edges of the building facing the public square and street