TL Robertson Library Refurbishment | Hames Sharley and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in Association

TL Robertson Library Refurbishment | Hames Sharley and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in Association | Photographer: Dion Robeson

2024 National Architecture Awards Program

TL Robertson Library Refurbishment | Hames Sharley and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in Association

Traditional Land Owners
Whadjuk Noongar

Western Australia

Brian Kidd Enabling Architecture Prize (WA)
COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture
Educational Architecture
EmAGN Project Award
Interior Architecture
Mondoluce Lighting Award (WA)
Sustainable Architecture
Project summary

Originally constructed in 1972, the brutalist TL Robertson Library is Curtin University’s largest and most historic building. Its refurbishment sought to redefine the purpose of the campus library, shifting away from preserving books towards prioritising social connection and a sense of community.

The library’s collection of books was consolidated and relocated to a high-density compactus system, freeing up space to accommodate a spectrum of learning settings; from social learning on the lower floors to silent study areas on the upper floors. The relocation of services enabled the addition of a new seventh level, with an event space that allows the library to host functions with up to 200 guests.

The previously enclosed building has been redefined to enhance its permeability and accessibility, with more legible entries, open floor plates and light-filled spaces, positioning the library as a beacon at the heart of the campus.

Western Australia Architecture Awards Accolades
Award for Sustainable Architecture
Commendation for Educational Architecture
Western Australia Jury Citation

Award for Sustainable Architecture

The Robertson Library refurbishment is a case study in the retention of the value of existing buildings and being refreshed to accommodate the changing needs of university education.

Libraries have undergone radical changes in their programmatic requirements through changes in pedagogy and the impact of the digital age.

The repurposing of the interior has achieved a minimalist approach resulting in a lower embodied carbon outcome. It also means any future repurposing will require less wastage its refitting.

The Library has achieved a 6 Star Green Star Designed Assessment certification understood to be the State’s highest score to date of 83 points and is anticipated to achieve a 6 Star (World Leadership) classification

There is a wide variety in the designer’s sustainable design initiatives:

  • All timber products had to provide FSC certification.
  • Suppliers were asked to provide EPD certificates.
  • Products required sustainable certification.
  • Local sourcing of materials.
  • Use of salvaged materials and materials with high percentage of recycled content.
  • Monitoring of materials through the construction process to ensure no substitutions
  • Whole of Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) has produced a 40% reduction against comparative buildings.

Particular attention has been given to diversity in accommodating students and the building now draws in over 7000 students daily, reflecting a significant increase in utilisation.


Commendation for Educational Architecture

The TL Robertson Library Refurbishment stands as a transformative project at the heart of Curtin University’s historic Perth Campus. With its roots in brutalist architecture, the 1972 building presents a visionary redesign to adapt to changing educational landscapes. The new architectural skin, characterised by punctuated glazed openings and perforated weathering steel, enhances the building’s aesthetic appeal while increasing natural light and connectivity with the surrounding environment.

The refurbishment reimagines the library as a vibrant hub, prioritising social connection and community engagement over traditional book preservation. With the realignment of the front door, the library now boasts enhanced permeability and accessibility, fostering a dynamic learning environment for its diverse student body. By blending modern amenities with the historic brutalist structure, the refurbishment breathes new life into the campus, serving as a dynamic hub for academic excellence and collaborative learning.

The addition of the upper floor explores a unique opportunity akin to a room in the treetops, providing panoramic views and a serene atmosphere for study, contemplation and gatherings. These enhancements, along with the sustainable design features and community-centric approach, redefine the library as a modern beacon of learning and collaboration.

The TL Roberston Library refurbishment has resulted in an academic library that is the envy of my university librarian colleagues across the country.

All of the spaces in the building signal inclusion and accessibility, from the dual Noongar naming to the sightlines across the floors, with colours and floor layouts all helping our 7000 diverse students who visit each day to find the study space that best suits their needs.

This building functions effortlessly as a safe, all-hours “third place” for our students. In the words of one student: ‘Goodbye home, I live here now!’

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TL Robertson Library Refurbishment | Hames Sharley and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in Association | Photographer: Dion Robeson

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