The Regional winner of Lysaghts’ Inspirations Design Awards (LIDA) was thrown significant design challenges on the way to successfully obtaining this accolade with its ‘Mercy College Mackay Library’ development.
Bold Architecture + Interior Design, were tasked with redeveloping an existing single storey library and transforming it into a new, two-level library building with a civic feel, that would become the heart and soul of a greater ‘student city’.
A challenging brief in itself, lead architect and director, Stewart Bagley and his team also had to navigate several other requirements, chiefly, that the revised structure would need to be constructed using the existing slab of the current building.
This requirement was set both as a cost-saving measure, but also because the land-locked nature of the site and growing student numbers, meant that outdoor space at the campus was highly valued.
A further consideration in the design was the location of an existing two-storey classroom building adjacent to the library – the close proximity of the two buildings ran the risk of potentially creating a narrow, dark and uninviting pathway for students and teachers.
Bold Architecture + Interior Design found a clever solution to this issue, according to Stewart.
“In order to increase the aperture to the sky and maximise daylight into the narrow divide, the structure and second-storey wall of the new building was canted 10 degrees to the north,” Stewart said.
“This ‘opening up’ of the void, significantly improved the amenity of the space and draws your eyes upward to the sky.”
The wall’s angled form was articulated with a stepped façade which was a reference to the old weatherboard cladding of the ‘Queenslander’. The stepping of the façade offered some weather protection to the long run of windows and broke down the scale of the large and long wall.
The cladding of choice for this wall was LYSAGHT ENSEAM®, aside from its functionality and low maintenance qualities, Stewart said ENSEAM® also delivered a certain look that his team was seeking.
“ENSEAM® cladding helped us achieve a more prestigious, civic-type look. We wanted the building to have its own identity, to have greater presence and personality than the adjacent 1970s classroom blocks,” he said.
“The beautiful standing seams and large pans further forced your eyes upward to the sky when standing at the bottom of the void,” he said.
To achieve a feel of prestige and scale, in addition to the clever use of ENSEAM®, the new library features full height masonry walls and ample aluminium-framed glazing which provides considerable natural light plus permeability in the way the internal spaces connect with the surrounding school environment. Any glazing that’s vulnerable to the hot tropical sun is protected by perforated aluminium screens that fold and stretch to provide shading.
A highlight of the interior design was the use of a portal frame structure that suspends a mezzanine level below, on the southern side of the building, which again added to the interior’s civic building feel while also creating a functional space.
Along with ENSEAM®, another Lysaght product that was used extensively throughout the project was TRIMDEK® – according to Stewart, TRIMDEK® is one of his practice’s favourite products that’s widely specified across a range of projects.
“TRIMDEK® is our ‘go-to’ for a lot of the roofing we design – it’s not as domestic-looking as corrugated CUSTOM ORB®, it’s suitable for use on shallow pitched roofs, it’s strong because of the profile and it works for most gradients,” he said.
According to Stewart, being recognised as a category winner in the Lysaght Inspiration Design Awards for the Mercy College project, will help lift the practice’s profile, particularly beyond Mackay.
“Winning awards such as this helps us when we’re competing for work or undertaking joint ventures outside of Mackay in larger metropolitan areas and centres – it shows that while we may be a smaller architectural company from Mackay, we produce high quality work that is recognised on the national stage,” he said.