Australia’s First Public CLT Building Opens 1

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014
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Library at the Dock
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A state-of-the-art library that combines traditional books, digital technology and sustainable architecture has opened at Melbourne’s Docklands.

Library At The Dock was officially opened over the weekend by Premier Denis Napthine, Planning Minister Matthew Guy and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

Napthine said the new library would be a great place for the local community to meet, read a book and enjoy a coffee, or study.

“Library at the Dock will act as a vital hub for this growing community and ensure we are continually improving the liveability of Docklands,” he said. “It will provide world-leading spaces for all members of the Docklands and wider community to learn, explore and enjoy.”

Library at the Dock under construction

574 cubic metres of CLT used was used in the library’s construction

Located at Victoria Harbour, the traditional library component of the site will be part of a larger community hub that includes a recording studio, editing suites, community spaces and a performance venue that can hold up to 120 people. It will also offer an interactive children’s playground and green space across the precinct.

The $23 million urban project is a collaborative development between Melbourne City Council, Lend Lease and Places Victoria. Clare Design was behind the architecture, while Lend Lease engaged Hayball to undertake detailed design and documentation as the architect of record.

Speaking to The Age, Clare Design director Kerry Clare said it was crucial that the design offered generous spaces and fostered a sense of community.

“We had to keep in mind that technologies will advance, things will change and interests will emerge and the building really has to be a flexible envelope over a very long time,” she said.

CLT cross section

CLT is predicted to gain ground on steel and concrete in the construction industry

At the launch, Guy also acknowledged the building’s environmental credentials, pointing to it as Melbourne’s most sustainable civic landmark.

“Constructed primarily from cross laminated timber (CLT) and recycled hardwood, Library at the Dock has been rated with a six-star Green Star energy efficiency, making it Australia’s most sustainable, community building,” he said.

Library at the Dock is a 18-metre building spanning three storeys which sits upon a heritage wharf originally built in 1879. It was built using 574 cubic metres of CLT, along with engineered timber and reclaimed wood.

Clare said the use of CLT made the structure one-third lighter than a similar building made of more traditional materials, allowing it to be built on the wharf.

CLT was used for upper floor slabs, the roof, columns, beams, core wall construction and the striking central staircase that rises the heart of the library.

Library at the Dock is the first Australian public building to be constructed with CLT, a material which is becoming widely recognised for its structural integrity and its ability to compete with conventional concrete and steel materials..

Library at the Dock

The library features digital technology and open interiors

Lend Lease’s 10-storey, 32-metre apartment building, Forté, stands nearby as the Docklands’ first private building to be built with CLT.

The CLT for Library at the Dock has been sourced from Finland’s Stora Enso Building and Living.

“The Docklands Library and Community Centre is an excellent example of how wood, and especially CLT, can deliver added value as a construction material. CLT can reduce construction time by one-third, and wood has the advantages of being a sustainable construction material,” said Matti Mikkola, senior vice president of building solutions at Stora Enso Building and Living.

Library at the Dock

A transparent ground floor blurs the boundaries between inside and outside

The library features a largely transparent ground floor embedded with windows to permit natural light. It also features a passive ventilation system for enhanced natural ventilation, adding to its sustainability.

The library is now officially open to visitors at the newly created intersection of Collins and Bourke Streets.

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  1. David Chandler OAM

    Angela, great article and an important one. I will be reporting on my recent visit to Christchurch and the re-construction shortly. Many new timber innovations were to be seen there. I will also be reporting on the Wood Solutions Conference in Sydney tomorrow which will discuss Mass Timber Design Solutions in Commercial and Multi-Residential Projects. The big question will be how an Australian and NZ timber industry can provide an alternate response to sourcing the recent timber buildings constructed in Australia from the northern hemisphere?