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

The architectural community of Perth gathered for a night to remember at the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) WA Chapter Architecture Awards, as the state’s best designs were recognised and celebrated.

The TL Robertson Library Refurbishment, by Hames Sharley and Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL) Architects in Association, received an Award for Sustainable Architecture and an Educational Architecture Commendation.

Originally constructed in 1972, the brutalist TL Robertson Library is one of Curtin University’s largest and most historic buildings. Completed in June last year, the refurbishment radically redefines the purpose of a library, one that grows far beyond housing a collection to a place of connection, supporting the people-centric heart for the University’s Perth campus and its diverse community.

The Sustainable Architecture jury agreed, noting that libraries have undergone radical changes in their programmatic requirements through changes in pedagogy and the impact of the digital age.

“The TL Robertson Library Refurbishment is a case study in the retention of the value of existing buildings and being refreshed to accommodate the changing needs of university education,” the jury said.

The project originally targeted a 5-star Green Star rating, but has since achieved a 6-star Green Star as-built rating.

The jury championed the use of sustainable design initiatives, which achieve objectives including a lower embodied carbon outcome, a 40% reduction against comparative buildings (using the Whole of Lifecycle Assessment) and less wastage in any future refits or repurposing.

The jury highlighted further sustainable design initiatives, including that:

  • all timber products had to provide FSC certification;
  • suppliers were asked to provide EPD certificates;
  • products required sustainable certification;
  • locally sourced, salvaged materials and materials with high percentage of recycled content were used; and
  • materials were monitored through the construction process to ensure no substitutions.

Finally, particular attention was given to diversity in accommodating students and that the building now draws in over 7000 students daily, reflecting a significant increase in utilisation.

In its Commendation, the Educational Architecture jury cited that the refurbishment is a transformative project that reimagines the Library as a vibrant hub, prioritising social connection and community engagement over traditional book preservation.

Enhancements including a new upper floor, modern amenities, permeability and accessibility, along with the sustainable design features and community-centric approach, redefine the Library as a modern beacon of learning and collaboration.

A win for the transformative capacity of libraries, the accolades are a testament to all who contributed to the project, including the collaboration of Hames Sharley with international partner SHL, builder Lendlease, sustainability consultant Full Circle Design Services, and client Curtin University including the Curtin Properties, Facilities and Development team.