Christchurch's new $85m library unveiled gallery

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Plans for Christchurch's new $85 million library has been revealed.

Plans for Christchurch's new $85 million library has been revealed.

Plans for Christchurch's new $85 million library has been revealed.

Plans for Christchurch's new $85 million library has been revealed.

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Christchurch's new central library will be a beacon that draws people into Cathedral Square and will light up at night like a lantern, one of its designers says.

Concept designs for the $85 million, five-storey library on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo streets were presented to Christchurch City councillors on Thursday after months of behind-the-scenes work.

At 9850 square metres, the new library will be more than a third bigger than the old library in Gloucester St but smaller than Auckland and Wellington's central libraries.

Kirk Hargreaves/stuff.co.nz

Plans for Christchurch's new central library have been revealed.

Architects from New Zealand firm Architectus and award-winning Danish firm schmidt hammer lassen have worked together on the concept plans, drawing inspiration from the local landscape and from discussions they have had with Ngai Tahu and the Ngai Tuahuriri runanga. 

Project director Carsten Auer said the openings on the upper floors of the building faced culturally significant points in the Canterbury landscape and beyond, while the facade was designed to reflect the folded nature of the Port Hills, with their warm golden colours and shadows.

"At night the library becomes a lantern that lights up Cathedral Square, a beacon that draws people across the Square," Auer said.

The ground floor of the library had been designed essentially as an extension of Cathedral Square with a cafe, retail space and an area displaying new technology. 

"We really put an emphasis on attracting both people who were coming to the library and also casual visitors who might essentially be passing through," Auer said. 

A light-filled central atrium would lead people up through the different levels of the library. The first floor, with its extended height, would be one of the most impressive spaces within the library and would house a 200-seat community arena, exhibition space, and areas for families, children and youth.

The top three floors would house the bulk of the library's digital, specialist and print collections along with meeting, recreation and activities areas, including a dedicated quiet reading room.  From the top floor people would be able to access two large outdoor terraces that would offer views of the Port Hills and the Southern Alps.

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Christchurch City Council libraries and information manager Carolyn Robertson said she was "absolutely delighted" with the design for the new library and believed it would serve as both a cultural hub for Christchurch and an important civic space that would attract people back into the central city. 

"The budget is tight but we absolutely believe it is achievable," said Robertson. 

Detailed design work was still to be done and the site still had to be cleared, but the goal was to have the library opened in early 2018.

WHY CHRISTCHURCH NEEDS A NEW LIBRARY?

The Christchurch City Council was looking at replacing the old central library in Gloucester St even before the quakes because it was too small.

After the quakes badly damaged the library, the council's original intention was to repair it, but it was forced to drop that plan when the Government released its blueprint for the central city.

That blueprint identified a new central library as an anchor project to spark investment and growth and bring people back into the central city. 

The Government committed to providing a 2725 square metre site on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo streets for the new library and to sourcing $10 million of philanthropic funding. The remaining $75m required for the project is coming from the council.

 - Stuff

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