The VUW Campus Hub and Library Upgrade responds to today’s changing pedagogical environment and new trends for maintaining and disseminating knowledge. Recognising that learning and social functions are no longer separate, the project shifts the boundaries between secure and non-secure elements of the library creating a greater overlap with learning, social and recreational functions and meeting student expectations for on campus activities and amenities.
Integral to the overall project is the provision of upgraded library facilities, social, teaching and study spaces, improved retail facilities, student social/health care and recreational facilities, as well as a central indoor and outdoor space of high quality.
Within the wider context, the project addresses the need for a ‘front door’, improves the interface with Kelburn Parade and increases legibility in the circulation network of the overall campus. Importantly, by overcoming both the challenging topography and previously poor connectivity in this precinct, the project establishes a new focal point and heart for the Kelburn Campus: a hub around which social and learning activities can revolve.
The Campus Hub integrates the refurbishment of the Rankin Brown Library, the new Hub building and the new Tim Beaglehole Courtyard, with ground level refurbishments of Easterfield and Maclaurin Buildings. The key design intervention was to excavate the site of the Quad (between Easterfield Building, Maclaurin Lecture Theatres and Rankin Brown Library) and remove the Easterfield Lecture theatre which projected into this space. This strategic move established a new, continuous ground plane linking Kelburn Parade and, aligning the ground levels of all buildings in this sector of the campus, allowed the insertion of the new Hub building and the creation of a new outdoor space.
The ‘Great Room’ is a large ground floor double height space in the Hub. It brings together the activities of the adjoining library, lecture theatres and new retail spaces, providing a student focused space for social and informal learning activities, as well as large gatherings and events. The new Reading Room projects over the student space, symbolically interlocking both social and learning functions of the Hub.
Opening directly onto the new Tim Beaglehole Courtyard, the ‘Great Room’ and courtyard create a pairing of indoor and outdoor spaces a nucleus for the social and learning activities of the University. Large automated sliding doors allow both spaces to seamlessly merge.
The Library is an integral part of the Campus Hub and is reconfigured to open into and actively engage with the new Hub. High use collections as well as informal and group study areas are relocated to the lower levels of Rankin Brown, where larger floor plates allow for more flexible and alternative learning configurations. A shift in the security threshold enables the Library to provide more services and learning functions within the Hub, complementing social learning activities and strengthening the vitality of the space.
Key connections across campus come together in the Hub, permeating the perimeter and edges of the ‘Great Room’. The clear juxtaposition of old and new offers simplicity with spatial clarity, supporting way finding and providing the environment for a first class student experience.
Key responsibilities of the design team led by Athfield / Architectus have been to:
- develop an Urban Design strategy that addressed key campus-wide design goals identified in the existing ‘Campus Development Frame Work’ and ‘Master Strategy Report’
- establish a Briefing Document including analysis of functional requirements against International Library Space Planning Standards and selected NZ University Statistics
- develop and deliver a design concept for the Campus Hub and Library Upgrade including the central outdoor space.