ARC4501 - SYDNEY CITY PROJECTS
Green Square Library and Plaza Green Square, Sydney, NSW
By Studio Hollenstein
in association with Stewart Architecture
The area of Green Square is considered the most important renewal project in Australia, due to its role in the decentralization of Sydney city. Green Square will become home to 60,000 people over the next 15 years, making it the densest populated area in Australia. Green Square is a low lying old industrial area with a mixed topology between commercial/ industrial and residential. The Green Square Library and Plaza by Studio Hollenstein in association with Stewart Architecture, along with a series of other community-based projects, are important catalysts in the dynamic evolving community of the Green Square town centre. The site for the Green Square Library and Plaza sits in the heart of the town centre, with most of the immediate edge conditions yet to be developed into residential and commercial projects. The area of Green Square is in a constant state of change, meaning the site of Green Square Library and Plaza’s success is yet to be physically realised within the urban framework.1 The library and plaza is one of the first pivotal projects within the green square redevelopment, and sets the standards for future developments.1. Charles Rice and Tom Roe, “Green Square Library and Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” Architecture Australia 108, no. 4 (2019): 34, https://architectureau.com/articles/green-square-library-and-plaza/
Studio Hollenstein’s Green Square Library and Plaza has an unconventional organisation consisting of three parts including the underground, sunken objects and the open plaza floor. The project consists of legible geometries of the square, circle, triangle and trapeze as instruments scattered along site. To the west, there is a triangular volume wedged into site pronouncing as the main entrance off Botany Road. This entrance serves as a café and can be reimagined for a function space. The circular garden punctures through the Plaza floor connecting into the centre of the Library plan. The underground space is open with the walls lined as bookshelf’s and playful objects scattered throughout, creating zones of activity. Importantly, there are a series of 42 large skylights which provide light to the underground, and at night they become beacons, illuminating and bringing life to the plaza floor. Central to the project, are a series of six small-scaled square rooms are stacked on top of each other forming a ‘tower like’ volume. Within the tower hosts a range of programs including a double height reading room, a music room, a computer lab and meeting spaces or areas to study. Lastly, there is a trapezium shaped amphitheatre at the east side of the site which progresses down from the plaza to the library floor. This element forms another entry point into the main library space. Almost all volumetric extrusions use glazing and steel frames, exposing the activity within each space.
The Green Square Library and Plaza project was one of Stewart Hollenstein’s first major project as a young firm, only completed minimal projects such as the Cobbler Caballero Shoemakers Store. When commissioned The Green Square Library and Plaza Stewart Hollenstein paired up with Stewart Architecture as an association firm to help guide both Matthias and Felicity through the process of realising their design proposal. Colin Stewart’s (father of Felicity Stewart and founder of Stewart Architecture) experience and previous approaches served as valuable knowledge through the collaboration process. Whilst Stewart Architecture were more experienced with commercial and residential projects the experience of consulting and realising successful projects was evident. After the Green Square Library project, another two projects were completed in association with Stewart Architecture including the Aero Apartments and Queanbeyan Cinema Precinct. In 2019 after Stewart Hollenstein was soon established, Felicity Stewart parted form the firm and joined Stewart Architecture in place of her father Colin Stewart. During this time Matthias Hollenstein rebranded Stewart Hollenstein as Studio Hollenstein. Both firms are currently working on community-based projects.
ICONOGRAPHY AND SCALE
The approach to The Green Square Library and Plaza as a iconographic image of Sydney city is quite different to typical iconic architectural representation of community based projects. The decision for the library to be situated majority underground, hides the project and creates an open space surrounding. Rather than having one large significant building on the plaza a series of intricate strange-scaled objects protrude from the landscape. The approach to hiding the library is an urban approach which considers the site strategically including sunlight placement and accounts for expected future development. The project uses an odd perplexing scale of a tower and trapezium to signify there is something on site. The distinct scale difference to the surround allows the small signifiers to draw people towards the project and the underground library.
The Green Square Library and Plaza project is a pioneer for future library design and is a critical project to the Green Square Town Centre redevelopment. Studio Hollenstein’s underground approach to the library, allows the project to facilitate space-making. The success of the project is reliant on the spatial definition that the immediate surrounding edge condition buildings will provide once they have been developed.2 The urban drawing shows what the site will look like when most of green square has been developed to its expected degree, amplifying how successful the project is at providing an open space and break from the densification of the surrounds. The Green Square Library and Plaza is also pivotal to the formation of the new civic corridor. The Plaza has the role of connecting the Train Station, The Drying Green, Joynton Avenue Creative Centre and Gunyama Park, together forming a connective tissue of community programs. Specifically, there is an interesting relationship between The Green Square Library and Plaza and the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre because of their similar utilisation of the underground. The success of the Town Centre is heavily reliant on the openness and fluidity of The Green Square Library and Plaza.
2. Rice and Roe. “Green Square Library and
Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” 32.
EXPLODED AXONOMETRIC LAYERING
The project creates an unconventional library sequence and a sense of open traversal.3 By having the entrance to the underground library through the triangular volume and the amphitheatre, a seamless loop between plaza and library is created.4 The exploded axonometric drawing shows this seamless loop which is created by integrating the underground in such a way there becomes a loosening of division between the plaza and library, underground and aboveground. The tower is another significant element which adds to the sense of a traversal movement through its vertical transitioning. The combination of the vertical, the oblique, and the horizontal movement creates an experiential and dynamic effect on the circulation throughout the project. This drawing also highlights the strange model like scale of the volumes onsite including the entrance triangle and ‘tower’ and by contrasting them against the surrounding large-scale developments, these volumes appear miniature.5
3. Rice and Roe. “Green Square Library and Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” 34.
4. Rice and Roe. “Green Square Library and Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” 34.
5. Rice and Roe. “Green Square Library and Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” 34.
The people occupying the project are as much a part of the built form and fabric, as the architectural elements are.6 The transparency of the project always allows habitation to be seen. The activities and movement people create becomes a part of the architecture when they inhabit the spaces. The urban effect creates a social performance as people from all surrounding edges can be observed. Noticeably, the spatial relationship creates a voyeuristic ambiance and an eerie tension between watching and being watched. This drawing is a critique on the spatial arrangement and proximity of occupants which displays the common behaviour of the gaze in the highly dense city that green square will be. The tall edge condition and open plaza in combination create this spatial arrangement whereby the gaze will be prominent, and privacy may be limited.
6.Felicity Stewart, “The Green Square Library and Plaza project”, ARC4501: Advanced studies in architecture (Monash university. April 27, 2020)
The urban effect of the project is dedicated to the use of glass and positioning of objects where the division between inside and outside becomes blurred.7 The occupation drawing shows a series of positions where the division between inside and outside is altered and there is no fixed definition of what is considered interior and what is exterior. As shown in all occupation drawings (A,B,C) the perspective change redefines space and the spatial definition is dependant on the positioning of the body rather than architectural elements. In this drawing the view is taken from the east side of the plaza behind the tower looking through the tower and through the entrance. The people occupying either the tower or the entrance triangle is unknown, and the degree of interiority is challenged.
7.Rice and Roe. “Green Square Library and
Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” 39.
Like ‘occupation B’, this drawing questions the definition of space. The degree of interiority is again dependant on the positioning of the body in space. This view is taken in the underground library looking through the circular garden, up to the plaza and through the entrance pavilion. Is the garden inside? Is the plaza inside? Or is the library inside? There is no fixed definition between inside and outside.8 furthermore, Programmatic flexibility in the design of spaces, encourages people of all demographics to form a community within this precinct. From children to elderly, to businesspeople to students, people are all occupying the spaces with a range of activities. The success of The Green Square Library and Plaza is dedicated to people being at the forefront of the design and ensuring the fluidity of the community plaza remains as open.
8. Rice and Roe. “Green Square Library and Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” 39.
Rice, Charles and Tom Roe, “Green Square Library and Plaza: Studio Hollenstein in Association with Stewart Architecture.” Architecture Australia 108, no. 4 (2019): 32-39.
Stewart, Felicity. “The Green Square Library And Plaza project”, ARC4501: Advanced studies in architecture. Monash university. April 27, 2020