Green Square Library Plaza won by Stewart Hollenstein and Colin Stewart Architects

Guest Contributor: Priyanka Rathod

From 167 entires that included Australian as well as international architects, a young firm Stewart Hollenstein in association with Colin Stewart Architects won the competition organised by City of Sydney. From the judges’ comments during the design excellence award ceremony on 4 March 2013, it was very clear that the decision was unanimous, a well deserved victory for the duo Felicity Stewart and Matthias Hollenstein. They will work with City of Sydney to develop the design and plan for construction in 2017.

Green Square, just 4km south of Sydney CBD, is a suburb currently under transformation from predominantly light industrial to residential. As Lord Mayor Clover Moore mentioned during presentation, it is very important to create a social hub for the community envisaged in future. With recent success of Surry Hills Library, City of Sydney council is looking for a design where people want to come again and again, relax, play, interact, exchange ideas and learn.

Stewart Hollenstein’s design provided all of above, and most of all, it responded to the context very well. Remaining above the flood level line (there is a risk of flood once in 100 years), they managed to create a plaza with submerged functional spaces and just a few tall buildings. With a site surrounded by high density tall residential towers, this seemed a natural and most appropriate option.

The shape of the plaza is essentially derived from site constraints and the library is seen as a large submerged room surrounding a courtyard. The presence of an amphitheatre made it even more interesting. It is not just a place where one would have to go, but a place where one would want to go.

For me, the series of diagrams that explained the usability of the plaza during various events and various time of the day was really impressive. It was clear to me by the end of presentation from Felicity and Matthias that it is truly a well thought design and a deserving winner.

Images Courtesy: Stewart Hollenstein and City of Sydney

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