Sydney Your Say: Placemaking the Library

Submitted by Jennifer Ferriss.

Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community.” The City of Sydney (Australia) embraces Placemaking. A website devoted to community input, Sydney Your Say is where Sydneysiders can speak up, sign up for a newsletter, see a calendar of events and follow city projects’ progress.

One project that is currently under construction is the Green Square Library and Plaza. The first Saturday of each month an Infohub, or dynamic space where residents can drop in and share and gather information with decision makers and community leaders is an ongoing effort to keep the community involved in this urban revitalization project.

The $47 million project includes a civic plaza influenced by European piazzas, water play areas for children and an underground library with an open-air garden and amphitheater. A seven storey tower will house a multi-purpose community room, reading and music recital rooms and a technology center. The plaza will host community events including Chinese New Year. 

The sustainable design was granted to Stewart Hollenstein in association with Colin Stewart Architects when he won a 2012 competition hosted by the city. More than 160 architects from around the world participated. The design competition was held in two stages and followed the Australian Institute of Architects Guidelines for Architectural Competitions. A panel of designers, architects and cultural experts made the first cut followed by a review from a cost planner. Stage two allowed entries to be placed on public display, with comments invited from the community and interest groups. “The jury said the project would shape Green Square’s character and instead of having a library used only as a quiet retreat for reading books, the modern library would appeal to all residents and become “a gateway to knowledge and a hub of community activity”. More info about the winning library here.


Concept art: view of library garden with plaza above.‚Äč




The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.