Anglican Church Grammar School – Centenary Library

BSPN Architecture has created a new design that integrates the past, present and future for the Centenary Library at the Anglican Church Grammar School [Churchie] located in Brisbane, Australia.

The Centenary Library at Churchie is the most significant project undertaken in the school’s 105-year history. The library activates the heritage-listed portion of the site by creating a space for the future.

Respect to the school’s archetype of red brick, steep tiled roofs, ornate detailing and cream capping, seamlessly integrates the Centenary Library with adjacent heritage buildings and wider campus. The deep and detailed brick façade stands sentinel to the modern internal glass ‘cube’; a testament that the past and future can coexist in the present. The result is a timeless iconic building that activates the footpath edge to enrich the urban experience.

The educational brief redefined the library’s role as the ‘heart-of-the-school’ during a time that many are questioning the importance and purpose of school libraries. The resulting space functions like a tertiary library, through a service-orientation that extends learning beyond the traditional school day and connects students, teachers, parents, alumni and the broader community.

The seven-year partnership between Churchie, the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) and BSPN Architecture underpinned this project’s unique consultative process.

With the Centenary Library as the critical strategic masterplan building, iterative evaluation of modest refurbishments identified those designs, materials, and technologies that worked within the Churchie context.

The evaluative process developed both teacher environmental competency and the built pedagogies of different learning environments.

Through its occupation, the Centenary Library exceeds its brief. Longitudinal post-occupancy evaluation suggests it has indeed become the ‘heart-of-the-school’ at Churchie. The average occupancy rate of 61% indicates substantial daily student inhabitation. The previous library was a space for English and the Humanities; now its curriculum foot map extends to utilisation across all subjects.

Provision of academic, café, pastoral and technological services into the evening and on Sundays ubiquitously engages the day/boarding students, teachers, parent and broader communities.

The Centenary Library’s success provided the grounds for the creation of the Churchie Research Centre within the library, connecting Churchie with leading Australian and international Universities.

ArchitectBSPN Architecture
Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones