Article Feature image - Hames Sharley Architecture, Urban Design, Planning and Interior Design

One of the country’s largest and most historic libraries has undergone a $90 million dollar transformation, with Hames Sharley and international partner Schmidt Hammer Lassen unveiling an innovative and considered people-centric design that charts a new path for major libraries in Australia and internationally.

The advanced architectural transformation of Curtin University’s TL Robertson Library prioritises student engagement in response to the inherent needs of its community and adding an additional 2,000sqm for collaboration and learning.

The revamped seven-level library officially opened at the university’s Bentley campus in Perth, Monday 27 February, with a smoking ceremony and formal welcome, ahead of final works being completed late-year, the culmination of an extensive five-year design and build process.

James Edwards, Hames Sharley Portfolio Leader for Education, Science and Research, said the project represented a rethink of the library and was an example of how good design challenges the status quo, putting people first.

“The library has a significant presence on campus, not just as its largest building but its cultural heart, so provided a prime opportunity to make a difference to the community it serves,” he said.

“Built in 1972 with a brutalist-style, like libraries of its era its main focus was on preserving books, with low ceilings and few windows, but our design added a new level, taking its floorspace to 20,000sqm, and almost doubled the number of windows, transforming it inside and out so visitors can come together for the cross pollination of ideas.”

The design was formed following an analysis of Curtin University’s community and how it uses space. Individuality of learning styles has been accommodated for, with higher floors becoming progressively quieter.

About 50 per cent of the TL Robertson is now dedicated to connection and collaboration, with an innovative compactus system releasing 1800sqm for informal study use.

Enhanced features include flexible teaching spaces, individual and group study areas, a makerspace for creative activities, an AV-production room for content creators, and an event space.

Wide shot of Curtin University TL Robertson Library interior foyer. The foyer features a high ceiling, a wooden staircase and an art installation hanging from the ceiling that doubles as lighting.
Render of Roberston Library redesign. An interior of a contemporary room with large windows and individual chairs placed around round tables.
Curtin University TL Robertson Library interior of fabric communal seating that is in shades of blue and grey.