Situated on the site of the old Marrickville Hospital, the new Marrickville Library and pavilion reuses an important piece of the suburb’s history to create a place for Marrickville’s diverse community to meet, work, learn and play. The design was selected through an invited competition and community consultation. The community’s vision for the library called for a diverse and accessible community space that demonstrated leadership in technology and sustainability through its design, programs and services.
Upon entering the library, visitors are welcomed into the main atrium. Natural light illuminates the space through triangular skylights that guide light across a stretched fabric ceiling. A three-storey void creates a sense of openness and provides visibility across the major spaces and circulation routes. A large timber auditorium stair with seating guides visitors up through the building. The spatial planning of the atrium emulates the design of a typical nightingale hospital ward: a large internal room adjoined by open-air verandas, enabling bright and airy spaces that foster wellbeing and visibility across the main areas.
The heritage-listed Marrickville Hospital building (1897-1991) has been carefully refurbished internally and externally, and forms the library’s administration areas, small meeting rooms, collection, and study areas with outdoor reading areas along its newly reinstated verandas. The materials selection sought to maximise reusable, renewable and low-embodied-energy materials. The bricks of demolished buildings on the site were recycled for reuse in the retaining walls and paving of the forecourt. The use of brick references the historical context of the site when it was used as brick pits, while the timber also references the site’s first use following colonial settlement to source timber for construction.
The transformation of the old hospital building into a new library shows innovation and successful repurposing of space. The council and architects approached the development of this new precinct as not only a new library but also a civic hub – a destination that would be embraced and loved by its community. It pushes the boundaries of the library typology, creating a wide range of spaces and catering to Marrickville’s diverse demographics.
Photography: Tom Roe, Brett Boardman