Te Manawa - Westgate Library and Multi-Purpose Facility

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The Westgate Town Square and Library is the anchoring civic component of the development of a new town centre at Westgate.

The Westgate Town Square and Library is the anchoring civic component of the development of a new town centre at Westgate.

The Westgate Library and Multi-Purpose Facility is the anchoring civic component for the new Westgate Town Centre development. The brief was to set a benchmark for civic buildings, establishing a sense of place and to provide a core community destination within the wider retail masterplan. The library and the town square were conceived and designed as an integrated project, working together to deliver an authentic civic heart within a greenfields development, and to represent a new model for ‘public life’ in a new part of the city.

The project houses its core library function alongside a variety of performance and event spaces, a citizens advice bureau and workplace for council staff – a programmatic combination which supports an emerging community and reflects the contemporary need for libraries to act as a ‘community living room’ rather than a repository for books.

The building is arranged as a three-level ‘stacked’ volume with the main entrance fronting the town square, together with a two-storey volume addressing Waru Street. Both building ‘wings’ are connected by a double height atrium void intersected mid-level by an inter-floor stair. The open atrium provides maximum visibility for intuitive wayfinding, while also introducing maximum natural light into the public spaces below.

In parallel with the clear legibility of the interior arrangement, the building also supports a need for civic substance through the selection of its fabric. The clear rhythm of exposed concrete columns and structural steelwork further reinforces the order, stability and confidence of a civic centre within a greenfields context.

The floor plate configuration generates a dynamic relationship at the building’s corner, expressing the life of the interior to the street and town square beyond, while the upper level volume cantilevers distinctively over the corner and the dramatic suspended canopy defines the street edge interface. Public functions contained within the building are purposely brought to the perimeter’s edge in order to be displayed, celebrated and engaged with. Within the deeper floorplate, warm and engaging spaces have been appropriately scaled and dressed to support a ‘living room’ experience.

At the Ground Floor, Te Whare Tapere, the children’s space within the facility was conceived as a story-telling space for children. A strong component of the brief was that the design ‘encourages’ all visitors to explore, play and learn and to offer flexibility of both furniture and the wider space.

The building was conceived as a sustainable exemplar, with a core focus on implementing sustainable techniques which are visible and communicable – extending the focus on education which is implicit in its Library function. The building combines passive low energy design including external shading devices and overhangs to naturally shade building facades and a highly insulated planted green roof to the upper roof level, alongside active measures including a photovoltaic array configured as a shaded reading terrace, low energy displacement ventilation, and low water use fixtures.

Te Manawa has been awarded a 5 Green Star - Green Star Custom Design Certified Rating, representing New Zealand excellence.

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