Gallery: Australia’s Surry Hills Library Sets New Standard for Green De...

The center was completed in 2009 and has also received recognition by the UDIA Excellence in Sustainable Design award and the Australian Timber Design Awards Public Building high commendation.

The innovative four-story, almost 2,500 square-meter library and community center includes meeting rooms, a commercial teaching kitchen, and a childcare center with an outdoor landscaped play space. The center is bordered on three sides by busy city streets, so healthy indoor air quality was a priority for the building — this is achieved with the help of a number of energy-efficient strategies.

First, the air intake is located on the roof of the building away from the streets. Air is drawn in through the top of the glass walled atrium, where plants passively filter it. Then the air weaves its way through a “thermal labyrinth” — a series of high thermal-mass rock baskets, which cools the air — and then it again passes through the plant-filled atrium before heading into the different levels of the building.

The glass atrium on one side of the building helps passively heat and cool the center by serving as a buffer to the outside. Natural daylight filters in through the plant-filled space and automatic shades roll down when the sun is too intense. One side of the building features an automatic louvered system that tracks the sun to minimize glare and intense light in the library space. The rooftop features a photovoltaic system that generates enough power for the lighting and systems in the building, while the rest of the space is covered in natural grasses that form a green roof.


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