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New Flats Galore!

5 Aug

2014 is turning out to be a huge year for multi-residential construction. A few major architecture companies largely dominate this scene, with a few rather interesting creative developers too. Below are the main ones going up this year.

South

10 Rosebery: 88 apartments on Botany Road.
Asper, Roseberry www.asperroseberry.com.au
Architect: Turner Associates

  

15 Botany: Park Grove. 170 apartments.
Architect: Krikis Tayler

 

16 Brighton: Longbeach apartments 344 Bay Street Brighton Le Sands
Architect: Tony Owen Partners (wow…!)

   

30 564 Princes Highway, Rockdale.
Architect: a+ design group aplusdg.com

31 Wolli Creek: three new buildings at Australand’s Discovery Point and the third stage of Southbank by Winten.
Southbank, Wolli Creek www.southbankwollicreek.com.au  http://www.winten.com.au/
Architect:

  

32 Woolooware: 600 apartments at the Bluestone new community Woolooware Bay. $300 million
Woolooware Bay Town Centre on the Cronulla Sutherland Leagues Club site, Shark Park.
Architect: Retail: Scott Carver and landscape architects Aspect Studios. Residential: Turner Associates.
220 apartments within three separate buildings ranging from a height of seven to twelve storeys.
http://www.jbaplanning.com.au/news/news-details/approved-major-new-developments-at-shark-park

     

42
Moss Wood Residence, 21-35 Princes Highway, Kogarah
84 Residential Apartments rising 10 storeys
Developer: Deicorp D&C

 

49.
East at Erkohttp://www.eastaterko.com.au/
41 apartments
Architect: SJB Architects (looks very similar to what they did at Harold Park (that turned out very well)).

   

50.
Breeze development, Little Bay
52 apartments
Architect:

————

North

11 Beecroft: 170 apartments.

18 Panorama Crows Nest: Willoughby Road.
Architect: JPRA for Barana Group
http://www.panoramacrowsnest.com.au/

 

20 Dee Why Grand: 150 apartments.
Architect: Fitzgerald Bennett
and 2-10 Mooramba Road Dee Why
 

24 Lane Cove: second stage of the DHA development of 170 homes. Arcadia. ‘Tree house’ apartments.
Crimson Hill, Lindfield. Defence Housing Australia (old UTS Ku-ring-gai Campus)
Architect: Architectus

  

26 Meadowbank, Shepherds Bay. 2000 new apartments. 2-8 Rothesay Avenue Meadowbank
Holdmark Property Group. 15-storey landmark tower with others stepped between 4 and 12 levels
Architect: Robertson + Marks

  

29 9 Atchison St ST LEONARDS: 60 apartments.
Architect: a+ design group aplusdg.com

 

38.
Alcove, Killeaton Street, St Ives.
300 apartments across six buildings. Meriton.

40,
Pymble Grand.
Architect: Mackenzie Architects
Developer: Modern Construction & Development.
Two five-storey blocks with 50 units.

48
The Sydney, at Macquarie Park Village near North Ryde
152 apartments offered in 23-level tower
Architect: Allen Jack + Cottier

53. Plaza 88, Archer Street, Chatswood. 212 serviced apartments
Architect: Marchese Partners (auspicious numbering…)

63.
Aurora, 3-9 Finlayson Street, Lane Cove.
Architect: designed by Angelo Candalepas and Associates and developed by MV Projects.

 

64.
Emerant Lane. 85 apartments. Lane Cove.
Architect: developed by SAKKARA with designs by dKO Architects.

65.
The Botanic, Finlayson Street, Lane Cove.
Architect: SJB Interiors, Mijollo Architects, Greenbush Group, Icon Co.

————

West

12. Altitude Apartments, 330 Church Street, Parramatta
Architect: Tony Caro for Meriton
53 levels. Meriton (wow…)

  

27 Parramatta: 450 apartments at Riverside.
Crown Group’s $309 million residential tower, V by Crown, twin commercial towers by Johnson Pilton Walker,
Architect: Johnson Pilton Walker Architects
Developer: Crown Group
$250 million development

36.
290-292 Parramatta Road, Auburn
1000 apartments
Architect: Cox Architecture

37.
Flemington markets
Up to 10,000 apartments in 30 storey towers.
Architect: Group GSA

41
Little Saigon Plaza, 462 Chapel Road, Bankstown
Retail and commercial
Developer: Deicorp D&C

 

43
Broadway Plaza, The Broadway Punchbowl
10,000m2 of Retail and 152 Residential Apartments within 7 buildings rising 5 storeys
Developer: Deicorp D&C

54. Centric Parnell Street, Strathfield
Architect: SJB Architects
http://www.centricstrathfield.com.au/Architecture/

55.
Skypoint Towers,46-50 John St Lidcombe
9 storey. Completion 2016

56.
7 Deane Street BURWOOD
97 units plus 3 retail shops. Opposite Burwood Train Station.

57.
1-17 Elsie Street Burwood

  

61.
Aspire Tower
Architect: Grimshaw
160-182 Church Street, Parramatta,
336 m (1,102 ft), 90 stories.

————

East

13 Bondi: 200-plus apartments from Mirvac on Ocean Street.
Architect: Mirvac Design, TBA designer.

14 Bondi Junction: 129 new apartments from Leighton Properties. 20-level AQUA
Architect: kann finch group in collaboration with DC8 Studio. Koichi Takada Architects interiors.

————

Inner West

 

17 Canterbury: 170 apartments on Charles Street.
Habitat, Canterbury www.habitatcanterbury.com.au
Architect: Turner & Associates

  

21 Erskineville: a new development of 200 apartments, Eve by Fridcorp.
Eve by Fridcorpwww.evebyfridcorp.com.au
Address: Corner of Eve and McDonald Streets Erskineville.
Architect: DKO

 

22 Five Dock: 155-159 Parramatta Road, Five Dock
1300 apartments
Architect:  Allan, Jack and Cottier for Crown International Holdings and Drivas Property Group

      

23 Forest Lodge: 300 more lots in new stages of Mirvac’s Harold Park development.
Altivolo, Harold Park (Precinct 4)
Architect: Developer: Mirvac Design

 

25
DeiCota Tower, Redfern St Redfern
Developer: Deicorp Design & Construct

 

34. Earlwood
Elysium Apartments
Address: 17-25 William Street, Earlwood.

 

35.
The Flour Mill at Summer Hill, where 300 apartments are planned
Architect: Hassell

 

44
Revolution Apartments, Illawarra Road, Marrickville
180 Residential Units spread over 4 buildings
Developer: Deicorp D&C

 

45
Urba, Gibbons St Redfern
19 Storey mixed use Developments. Retail, commercial and 135 Apartments.
Developer: Deicorp D&C

 

46
Alpha Apartments, 20 McGill Street, Lewisham.
68 Residential Apartments rising 6 storeys
Developer: Deicorp D&C

 

58.
22 George Street Leichhardt (former Kolotex Glo factory)
rezoned from industrial to B4 mixed use
244 apartments, with 1,126 square metres of mixed-use space, with three street frontages.
Architect: SJB Architects
Greenland paid $47.1 million for the site.

 

59.
Homebush’s Town Centre
The Crescent, near Homebush station
12 storey block on the site of the sub branch of the RSL

 

60.
2A Brown Street Ashfield
Architect: Olsson and Assoc.
Two 8 storey mixed use buildings. 120 apartments plus retail.

City

 

 

19 Darling Harbour: 1400 apartments
First stage:
Darling Sqwww.darlingsq.com
Architect: Denton Corker Marshall (DCM) for Lend Lease
Darling Square, The Boulevard, Sydney

 

 

 

33. City
Greenland Centre www.greenlandcentre.com.au  (old Sydney Water Headquarters, 1965)
Address: 115 Bathhurst Street Sydney. 236 metres.
Architect: bligh voller nield Donovan Hill and WoodsBagot
two-bedroom apartments (76 -88sqm) from $1,325,000 and three beds (105-143sqm) from $2.2 million.
1930s building next door to become a hotel
Architect: Peddle Thorp Architects and Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)

 

 

 

51.
Harbour Mill Apartments, Pyrmont.
http://www.hessiandesign.com/grimshaw/
Architect: Grimshaw. Developer- Ceerose.

 

 

52. The Quay. $280 million. http://www.wmkarchitecture.com/
Quay Street, Haymarket
Architect: WMK

62
Barangaroo Apartments
Lend Lease. 159 apartments
Architect: Richard Francis-Jones of Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp and Andrew Andersons of Peddle Thorp Architects
two apartment complexes will become the first in the Barangaroo South region

2014 is a huge year for Sydney glitz and glam.

16 May

2014 is a huge year for Sydney glitz and glam.

A number of old icons are being razed for new icons. Each one of the below buildings are world class.

Under construction

140507-C01-001

Barangaroo
International Towers | 49st, 43st, 39st / 217m, 178m, 168m /
Architect- various

The fantastic Barangaroo is emerging from the primordial soup of east Darling Harbour.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW04.htm

140507-C02-003

140507-C02-014

20 Martin Place
Architect- Crone Partners in collaboration with James Carpenter Design Associates (NY).

A dazzling glass Miesien box to replace the seventies dazzling glass Miesien box. The main part of the renaissance of Martin Place. The architects have moved the circulation cores out of the main floor area. The old building was reduced to a fantastic steel skeleton.
Crones are so hot right now!
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd5-16.htm

140507-C03-020

5 Martin Place
Architect- Johnson Pilton Walker with Tanner Kibble Denton Architects.

A rather sympathetic and sophisticated approach to the sandstone canyon of Martin Place. Compliments the Commonwealth Bank money-box building next door.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd5-04.htm

140507-C04-001

Macquarie Martin Place headquarters
48 Martin Place.
Architect- Johnson Pilton Walker

This one looks like great fun. The architects have created a central void and a vast domed skylight.
A real urban testament to the money and glamour of banking (like something out of a Batman movie!).
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd5-08.htm

140507-C05-003

UTS Information Technologies Engineering Building (Broadway)
Architect- Denton Corker Marshall (DCM)

I’m not sure how this will turn out. It is pretty cool to look at, but it’s such an ugly monolithic metallic slug on such an important site that I think in ten years time it may be reviled (especialy if the cladding rusts). Cubist marshmallow!
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd7-023.htm

140507-C06-003

Urbanest student housing Wattle Street.
Architect- GROUP GSA

I’ve included this to show some interesting contextual stuff going up. Again part of the incredibly dynamic Haymarket district.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd7-026.htm

140507-C07-007

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS
Ultimo
Architect- Frank Gehry

Wow- my brain hurts thinking about the brickwork in this building. Indulgent but delightful (essence of architecture, right?).
Good to see an iconic education building on this site on the end of the Goods Line pathway.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd7-021.htm

140507-C08-007

180 Thomas Street, Haymarket.
Architect- Bates Smart

A speculative corporate response to the same site as above (Goods Line pathway), sitting on top of an existing substation.
A really good effort by Bates Smart if you ask me.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd7-025.htm

140507-C09-001

Central Park
on Broadway near Central Station
Architect- Norman Foster + Partners + Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Zipping along, needless to say…
Designed by Jean Nouvel, the development encompasses a shopping mall and apartment complex, with vertical gardens featuring on its facade.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW15.htm

Under demolition and site prep.

140507-D01001

140507-D01009

Sydney Convention Centre
Darling Harbour
Architect- Hassell

Big things are planned for this site. After a tortuous couple of months the original Convention Centre (flagship of the eighties Darling Harbour) has all but disappeared.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/PYR/PYR17.htm

140507-D02-007

The Castlereagh
Architect- Tony Owen

More sleek plastic for downtown Sydney, to keep the overseas investors happy.
It replaces a rather staid 1920s job.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd6-020.htm

140507-D03-010

33 Bligh Street
Architect- Fitzpatrick and Partners with Kannfinch

This is an ambitious and exciting building. It can get to be so high as the building itself sits on top of a large substation (to be hidden behind a huge sandstone screen).
It replaces a graceful but clapped out late sixties building.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW33.htm

140507-D04-011

333 George Street.
Architect- Crone / Grimshaw

Here’s an exciting building on a great site. It’s good to see this part of town slowly come back to life (with then night clubs, etc).
When George Street become a pedestrian area this site will soar. It will house the local branch of Marks and Sparks.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW34.htm

Recently Finished

140507-F01-014

8 Chifley
Architect- Richard Rogers of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Lippmann Associates in association with Mirvac Design.

Not as exciting as the renderings, but an excellent addition to the streetscape.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW18.htm

140507-F02-015

Eliza Apartments
Architect- Tony Owen

This is a wee bourgeois gem. Check out the stonework at street level- really creative.
Link- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW-SM22.htm

Epilogue
This city has no shortage of capital compared to other cities, look at the dollars being spent on projects around the city this decade.
Lets see, short list I quickly compiled.
$30b transport plan from the NSW government. Light rail, North West Rail Link, M5, M4 extension etc.
$8b Green Square/Zetland
$6b Barangaroo Lend Lease contract + $1b Crown Casino
$2.5b Darling Harbour redevelopment, Lend Lease contract (this company is obviously scratching the right backs in government)
$2b Central park
$1.3b City One/Wynyard Station
$1b AMP/Circular Quay
$1b UTS redevelopments

It’s is after 10 years of non spending post Olympics.

Central Park West? New development for Parramatta downtown.

18 Dec

Here are pictures of the winning scheme for the new two 53-storey office towers, designed by Sydney firm Johnson Pilton Walker, will be built as part of the Parramatta Square redevelopment in the CBD.

I think that they look hugely like the Central Park development in the city at Broadway.

131217-PARRA-01

The buildings feature a sky terrace on the 25th floor and a sky lobby on the 27th floor which jut out from the tower, offering sweeping views to the Sydney CBD and across the west towards the Blue Mountains.

131217-PARRA-02 131217-PARRA-03 131217-PARRA-04

 

When constructed, the commercial towers will add up to 140,000 square metres of office space to the Parramatta CBD and function as two of the key centrepieces of the three-hectare Parramatta Square site in the heart of the CBD.
The original 4 short-lited from the competition (chosen from a field of 73 designs):

01. Mario Cucinella Architects’ offering for Parramatta Square Stages 5 & 6

131217-PARRA-COMP-01

02. Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp’s design concept

131217-PARRA-COMP-02

03. Johnson Pilton Walker’s design concept

131217-PARRA-COMP-03

04. Bates Smart’s design concept

131217-PARRA-COMP-04

FJMT's $220m Charles Perkins Centre – The University of Sydney

24 Sep

FJMT continue on their winning streak with this ultra-industrial gleaming alpolic and sandstone clad structure.

Modernist Brutalism is coming back in, fat camp style.

Budget- $220 million
Architect- FJMT
Builder- Brookfield Multiplex

SU99-16

Artist’s rendering (copyright FJMT)

SU99-01

 

The building is a standard reinforced concrete construction with an interesting cladding mixture of aluminium composite panel (alpolic), sandstone and glass. The sandstone side attempts (!) to enter a dialogue with the Gothic St John’s College opposite. Its machine-like Brutalist design states clearly that it is a building of laboratories and research.

SU99-07

 

The University of Sydney spent $220 million on a new research and education centre that will focus on the diagnosis and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

SU99-09 SU99-11

 

The cash for the project was raised through a combination of a government infrastructure bond and private university funding.
Covering 46,700 square metres the area is equal to a 30-storey office block, or similar to the Sydney Cricket Ground.

SU99-12

Once completed it will be home to about 950 researchers and 1455 undergraduates with a variety of laboratory spaces, clinical research facilities and a biobank.

SU99-14 SU99-15
Links
http://sydney.edu.au/perkins/building_project/background.shtml
http://www.smh.com.au/business/fat-budget-for-sydney-uni-research-centre-20120307-1ujsx.html
http://www.brookfieldmultiplex.com/projects/australasia/nsw/construction_and_development/health/under_construction/charles_perkins_centre/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Perkins_(Aboriginal_activist)

 

August Construction update

1 Aug

There are half a dozen fantastic projects going up within half a mile of Central Station.

Here are some recent update pictures (changing rapidly…)

01. Central Park

That heliport still amazes me every time I walk past it. And the greenery growing on the walls. Talk about smoke and mirrors. However, it does work to set this development apart from the other boring stuff. And the site is superb too.

More images- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW15.htm

01A 01B 01C

02. 163 Castlereagh Street (ANZ Tower).

Up in mid-town, the new ANZ tower by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) has turned out wonderfully. The good detailing and sense of design that FJMT usually display on their libraries (etc) is here employed to make some urbanely relaxed inner city spaces.

More images- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW01.htm

 

02A 02B 02C

03.  Construction of the new 14-storey faculty UTS ITE Building dramatically sheathed in angular aluminium on the corner of Broadway and Jones Street. A somewhat disturbingly modern (decon) facade (modern Brutalism..) facing the main entry to the city. This may turn out badly.

More images- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd7-023.htm

03A 03B 03C

04.  The UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

Just down the road from the ITE Building is the new superstar-Gehry-designed Chau Chak Wing. The facade has not started to go on but it promises to be a good one. It is also sited on an old elevated disused railway corridor that promises to become a very interesting and dynamic part of Sydney.

More images- http://sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd7-021.htm

 

04A

05. 180 Thomas Street, Haymarket. Bates Smart

Won through a City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition.
Very nice little office building, opposite the Gehry UTS building (on the old railway building. A conversion of a 10 year old plinth.

05A

 

05C

Above- a BS rendering of the completed project.

Recent inner-city developments- CBD Low/Mid Rise (under 10 levels)

8 Jul

01- Cheese Grater (Architects- Allen Jack+Cottier)

Spunky new educational bldg DA as part of UTS (1 -3macarthur st)
cnr Macarthur st/bay sts
International Grammar School

02 15-35 chippendale student accommodation (architects- Silvester Fuller)

Here’s a render – looks better as a model. The architects (Silvester Fuller) are based in Australia, but I guess that doesn’t mean they’re not American. The owners of the building are American, however – it’s student accommodation for Boston University.
Original design from rising star TONY OWEN. Not half as good as what was finally built.

03- Belmore Park substation
The more I think about this one the more of a wasted opportunity this really is.
The 1918 Sydney hotel which was pulled down for current carpark.

04- New HQ for Google in Pyrmont- Workplace6. 6-Star Green Star-designed. (architects- Nettleton Tribe).

05- SUSSEX HAY CENTRE – 405-411 SUSSEX STREET, HAYMARKET (architects- Crone Partners Architecture Studios)

Demolition of the existing 5-6 storey buildings and construction of an 8 storey building with 2 levels of basement parking for 23 cars and lower ground supermarket, retail and restaurant at ground and first floors and 6 levels of commercial offices above.
It’s called the Sussex Hay Centre. You aren’t going to be happy with what they replaced, and what with (well I know I’m not, over 100 year old heritage lost!).

Here’s a Flickr website dedicated to what has been lost –
http://www.flickr.com/groups/688094@N20/

Here’s what the old 2 buildings looked like –

06- Dominion. 299 Forbes st, Darlinghurst. (architects- Group GSA)
At it’s highest point (about 30m down Burton Street), it’s about 29m from street level to the top of the lift overrun. At the corner of Forbes and Burton Streets it’s about 23m (7 storeys); at the corner of Burton and Bourke Streets it’s 24m (7 storeys).

A new Dominion to rise in Darlinghurst
8 July 2010

St Hilliers and Cbus Property have launched Dominion, a 110 luxury apartment development in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

The development is located on the site of the former Caritas healthcare facility, which St Hilliers acquired from St Vincent’s Hospital in 2008 with concept plan approval for a medium density residential and commercial development.

The triangular site is bounded by the famous Darlinghurst Gaol, now the National Art School, the NSW Supreme Court and the former heritage Darlinghurst Police Station.

The building was designed by Group GSA, with interiors by SJB Architects.

Architecturally, the approach has been to create three new buildings unified on a contiguous sandstone base, which wraps around the site and is in keeping with the historic surrounds. The base houses around 1,000 sqm of retail and commercial areas.

The Bourke, Burton and Forbes residences are low-rise buildings which feature an architectural profile of steel, glass and louvres and floating roofs. Four apartments housed within two adapted heritage buildings retained on the site blend heritage features and contemporary style.

Utilising the large frontages and stepped unit façade layout, over 90 per cent of the units are cross-ventilated.

The development as a whole aims to achieves a 5 star NatHERS environmental rating.

Construction of the development is expected to commence in December 2010 and will take 18 months to complete.

07- ‘Eden’ 19-31 Goold Street, Chippendale: (Architect: Tony Owen)

On a sadder note, a new DA is in for 19-31 Goold Street, Chippendale, and those terrific swooping and swaying lines of the rear of the building have been ‘rationalised’ into something much straighter and more conventional and much less interesting. What grey cardigan’s bloody idea was that?! 8 storeys 26 apt.

08- EastExchange. The extension to the old East telephone exchange at 320 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst.

http://www.eastexchange.com.au/
Developed by Maygood Australia.
A 1923 stripped classical style public works building designed by E.H. Henderson.

09- Luxe Apartments in Woolloomooloo. The site – currently a hole – sits between Sir John Young Crescent and Crown Street.
A large hole in the ground on the site of the former Sydney Eye Hospital in Woolloomooloo is set to become twin seven-storey apartment blocks (has been gathering puddles and graffiti since the late 1990s).
Developer- Investment group FKP. The new $95 million blocks will be called Luxe and contain 77 apartments with an average price of $1 million.
The buildings were designed by architects Marchese Partners International and modified by Krikis Tayler Architects.

10- DA in for Student Housing, 1 Regent Street, Chippendale.
DA submitted 2007.

11- Glass box atop Louis Vuitton’s new flagship store, on the corner of King and George. (architects- Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp).
Formerly The Blacket Hotel. Developer- Kingvest Pty Ltd.

Through the looking glass and beyond

6 Jun

Yuko Narushima, SMH June 4, 2011


Welcoming … light and and airy spaces draw a constant flow of patrons to Surry Hills library.


Technology and changing habits are transforming libraries the world over, writes Yuko Narushima.

In the library of the future, a robot will find the book you want, remove it from its shelf and deliver it to a service counter for your collection.

It will take minutes between ordering the book online and having the pages in your hands.

That library is being built at Macquarie University, which will become the first Australian university to install a robotic crane as part of an automated storage and retrieval system. By putting 80 per cent of its stack in a compressed space, the university can keep its collection on site.

The new $70m Macquarie University Library will be built on vacant land south of buildings W3A, C3A and C3B along Macquarie Drive and will open in 2010. Designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp it represents a new generation of library design – full of dynamic spaces for learning, rather than the traditional notion of a library only as a quiet, storage facility for printed materials.

That is a luxury other libraries are giving up. The University of NSW and the University of Sydney are cutting back on hard copies, either by discarding duplicates or moving titles into storage.

All over the world, libraries are coming to grips with the limits of shelf space and the changing demands of their members.

The University of Oxford faced opposition when it ran out of shelves at the centuries-old Bodleian Library and trucked books to what The Guardian called an ”unlovely but pragmatic” industrial estate on the outskirts of Swindon, 45 kilometres away.

When the Ernest S. Bird Library, at Syracuse University in the US, tried to move books 400 kilometres away, staff and students ran a campaign to ”free Bird” and keep the tomes close.

Syracuse University’s main library is the Brutalist classic Ernest S. Bird Library, which opened in 1972. Its seven levels contain 2.3 million books, 11,500 periodicals, 45,000 feet (14,000 m) of manuscripts and rare books, 3.6 million microforms, and a café.

So the University of Sydney librarian, John Shipp, was prepared when protesters united on Facebook to fight the renovation planned at the Fisher Library. Students and staff borrowed 1100 books in a single hour to save them from storage. Of those 160 hadn’t been borrowed since 1979.

”Touching an icon like Fisher Library has to engender some protest. You would expect it to,” Shipp says. ”In universities where they care about scholarship, there’s always protest.”

Uncatalogued gems worth thousands have been unearthed at Fisher. Since the removal process began, librarians have discovered a first edition of Indian Currency and Finance by John Maynard Keynes and an 1892 copy of The Story of a Puppet or the Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and moved them to the cherished rare book collection. Shipp expects to find 18,000 more.

The library manager for the City of Sydney, David Sharman, says public libraries are also changing. Their function has gone from a warehouse for books to a pleasant place in which people want to spend time. There, the focus on book preservation of 40 years ago is now balanced against the demands of visitors, who want more than to sit on a patch of carpet with a book on their lap.

”The belief at the time was that books and light don’t mix because it makes the paper fade,” he says. ”We’ve gone full circle because natural light and people do mix.”

Libraries are becoming airier. Rows of shelves are opening out to lounges and cafes. Desks come with powerpoints for students to plug in laptops and sunlight passes over squat shelves that no longer need a ladder for access.

Search engines have also changed the information people look for. Requests for low-level information – what Sharman calls ”Wikipedia-level references” – have given way to increased interest in niche information. Search engines and websites such as Wikipedia satisfy the initial demand for information.

”[Wikipedia] may be right, it may be wrong, but it will give you an answer,” Sharman says.

The digitisation of reference material, including encyclopedias and dictionaries, also delivers access to quality information at home. Library members can log on using their library card number and trawl through databases in their lounge rooms.

For fiction, demand in libraries for e-books has so far been small. Instead of shifting novels online, community libraries are tailoring hardcopy collections to match the interests of their members.

In Surry Hills, for example, the library carries extra titles on art and design. Expectant mothers read up on parenting and first home-owners peruse books on decorating.

The Haymarket library Sydney Council library branch. Formerly CBC Bank (1873).

In Waterloo, young families prefer a more traditional collection, with books for young readers. The Haymarket library has the city’s Asian language collection. Across a number of libraries, graphic novels, or comic books, are pulling the traditionally hard-to-lure demographic aged between 20 and 30, Sharman says.

”There’s some serious literature written in this form now. People immediately think of male teenagers but there’s an entire literary world of graphic novels,” he says. For the nine inner-city libraries he manages, 25 per cent of visitors are tertiary students, he says, many of whom live in share houses and are seeking a pleasant space to spend time. And librarians are less inclined to hush chatter, perhaps in the recognition that their buildings are becoming meeting places for people seeking free public space, indoors.

In the new Ryde Library, shelves are arranged in Y-shapes according to genre. Books on health are clustered. Home and garden titles sit together.

”Like a bookshop,” the library services manager, Jill Webb, says. The furniture and bookshelves float on wheels to allow for easy reconfiguration.

Webb expects libraries to change further. It would be a brave librarian to predict what the library of 2030 would look like, she says.

”Where libraries are going is something of an unknown. The best thing that we can do is be very open-minded and be willing and able to change,” she says.

While the automated system coming to Macquarie might work for a research library – where members know what they are looking for – community libraries cater for a different set of readers.

Public libraries are committed to an open stack that gives people direct access to the books, Sharman says. ”We have a lot of use from people browsing. They say, ‘I’m after a design book. Even if they’re after a particular one, once they get to the section there’s usually two or three that will catch their eyes,” he says.

”There’s no doubt digital books and information are becoming increasingly important,” says Sharman, ”but the paper book has still got a long way to go yet.”