Whanganui Collegiate Library
First built in 1911 as a dining hall, the HG Carver Memorial Library is located within the Historic Places – Category 1 listed Heritage site, of Whanganui Collegiate School. The Library project involved significant seismic strengthening and refurbishment work to complete a vital learning space for the school, as part of the staged implementation of the recently completed masterplan design.
The Heritage New Zealand endorsed, Library refurbishment design involved the stripping back of ad hoc additions that had been applied to the original building over the last 100 years, while holding on to the building’s most historically important elements to reveal and articulate the original building form.
The design intent for the building’s new architectural insertions creates a clear distinction between new and old, complementing the existing building fabric, rather than competing with it. This is typically achieved using dark materials, recessive in tone to showcase the rich texture of the original materials. A new glazed annex forms a naturally lit entry lobby space while offering reflected views of the adjacent buildings and landscaping. Internally a new dark stained timber mezzanine is positioned centrally within the buildings main space, offset from the perimeter walls in respect to the original building interior and to allow the full volume of space to be appreciated. A key learning space in itself, the mezzanine allows the staff and students to inhabit the upper level of the building volume to better experience the vaulted ceilings along with the distinctive views out of the large gable end windows.
A sensitive, yet equally bold design for the HG Carver Memorial Library revitalises an important place for learning within the school, while holding on to and enhancing a building of significant architectural heritage.