The library will be the centrepiece of the new Mosman Civic Centre.
It is a building that will create a positive public profile through a direct interface with the local community.
An essential part of the Civic Centre ‘Return Brief’ is to rethink the library in a contemporary manner whereby it has broader appeal and contributes greater value to the local community.
The expectation of contemporary libraries is to provide a highly accessible suite of public programs and a broader range of services. The library also aims to capture a wide spectrum of users by offering multiple forms of media, particularly digital services.
The Mosman Library currently resides in an architecturally rich building on the site’s South West corner. Unfortunately, this building is ill equipped to meet the potential that contemporary libraries hold. Further, the building is poorly sited, neither addressing Military Road nor Mosman Square. The existing spaces do not meet general standards set by the State Library for size, functionality and digital technology. Over time, successive expansions to the Main Collection have encroached upon the reading areas and study space, leaving these important spaces cramped and uninviting. Meeting, function and seminar spaces are also in high demand for a diverse range of community uses.
The critical reason for constructing a new library is relocating it to take advantage and compliment the public life on Military Road and Mosman Square. It should be located in a highly visible location as it has the potential to act as a recognisable public front for Mosman at the nexus of Spit Junction. We propose a dynamic community facility surrounded by active public spaces, shops and public transport and directly accessible from Military Road.
Activating and drawing from the street life will be a ‘Community Lounge’ providing informal space for easily accessible newspapers, magazines and tablet computers. Synergetic commercial opportunities such as a coffee shop, bookshop or gift shop should also be considered to add value for the local community. This dedicated Public Room could be a comfortable, unsecure reading area including space for group study and collaboration. Dedicated, accessible public space is required for formal and informal gatherings, exhibitions and information technologies.
It is our recommendation that the current library building be retained and restored as part of the new Council Chambers to make good use of its robust Architectural character and quality of interiors. A new Library should be designed and constructed elsewhere on the Civic Centre site.
Contemporary examples that can be cited as precedents would be Sydney Customs House and Surry Hills Library and Community Centre. These examples resonate as ‘People Places’ as they exemplify light, generous spaces, with highly accessible adjacent public space.