Woolston Community Library
The new Woolston Community Library replaces the previous library, built in 1871, which was demolished due to earthquake damage. A simple material palette of red brick, black steel, and timber speaks to the traditional local architecture style. It also takes inspiration from the original library, which was largely constructed from the distinctive brick. Exposed steel beams nod to the industrial character of the area – the site sits at the heart of a historic transport route between Christchurch city and the ferry terminal.
The design team was determined that the new Woolston Community Library would embody the spirit of Woolston’s industrial past, honour the history of the site, and provide a welcoming, usable space for its people.
"Throughout the project, our goal was to make sure that the cost-efficiencies required on behalf of the community could be achieved without compromising the building’s usability and design aesthetic.” - Szymon Gozdzikowski
With expansive ceilings, natural light, and timber panelling, the library is practical and inviting. The community hall is ideal for events and gatherings, and a servery window opens through to a well-equipped, modestly sized commercial kitchen. A small meeting room, parents’ room, and toilets complete the range of facilities available.
All spaces are designed to be versatile: glazed bi-fold doors in the library and hall open out onto the courtyard and connect the hall to the car park, while timber sliding doors can be used to divide the hall into smaller spaces. The result is a simple and flexible community hub, where all internal spaces can be used in various ways, depending on the community’s needs.
There were specific budget constraints for this project. Ignite worked hard to ensure that the cost-efficiencies required on behalf of the community could be achieved without compromising the building’s usability and overall design aesthetic. We sourced materials from the local region as much as possible, including the red brick, which was supplied by the only remaining manufacturer in the South Island, Canterbury Clay Bricks. Underpinning our choices was the need for cost-effective, low-maintenance, and durable surfaces that suited the urban context.
As it is a TC2 categorised site, a substantial portion of the budget was invested in the building foundations. Although this cost could have been reduced by using ‘lighter’ building materials such as timber, the red brick façade was identified as a key requirement through the public consultation process. Ignite ensured the design met budget requirements without compromising the brick - it was an important part of honouring the architecture of the original library.
This article originally appeared in ignitearchitects.com