Commissioned by Bankstown City Council (BCC) and designed by fjmt (Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp), the Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre (BLaKC) sets a new benchmark in sustainable design through the adaptive reuse, salvage, recycling and renovation of the existing Bankstown Town Hall. Located in the heart of Bankstown, the development serves to revitalise a dislocated site and create a rich spatial experience for community members and visitors.
The project brief called for a sustainable, high quality building of distinctive architectural character and a landscaped public space to foster a sense of community within the Bankstown civic precinct. Two options emerged in response to the brief; an adaptive reuse of the existing building or a complete demolish and rebuild. After analysing the associated risks and benefits a third option became apparent; a hybrid approach. Adopting this approach led to the existing building being sensitively modified with salvaged materials and realigned to meet new requirements. The existing auditorium and related podium were demolished and the new library volume shifted forward. To define the public domain and create a sense of place within the podium forecourt, the southern line of the existing building line was expanded. Alteration, addition, renovation and adaptive reuse of the existing building envelope, ensured the project brief, objectives and budget were all successfully satisfied.
The design offers an integrated, inclusive and flexible space containing; a new library over three levels, a three-hundred seat theatre, community conference facilities, new cafe and community information wall. Public domain improvements for the redevelopment of Paul Keating Park (PKP), addition of an aquatic sculpture garden, new street trees and offstreet parking for sixty-four cars and an all weather bus drop-off zone. The modernised facilities and surrounding public space encourages visitors to exchange ideas, interact spontaneously and participate in community programmes.
Sustainable design principles and innovative high performance environmental systems informed all design decisions to create an integrated, flexible, state-of-the-art community hub. The BLaKC imparts a certain monumentality, significance and dignity to this significant public place.