Green Square Library and Plaza

  • 2019

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

  • Studio Hollenstein
  • in association with Stewart Architecture

Commissioned By:

City of Sydney

Designed In:


Green Square Library is an open, flexible and inclusive space which pushes the boundaries of public architecture. A fusion of building and landscape, the radical design presented an innovative response to the original competition brief. The library functions as an ‘urban living room’ for a healthy, growing community.

  • MORE
  • Green Square is Sydney’s first new town centre in over 100 years, and the largest urban renewal zone in Australia. Green Square Library and Plaza lies at the heart of this dense new suburb, a direct response to a context where public open space is the most valuable commodity. The brief called for two separate and distinct components — a public plaza and a library. The design respond to three specific questions: What is the future of the library? How do you make a library in a plaza? How do you create soul in an entirely new neighbourhood?

  • The design approach rejected the formalised institution of a library, and instead fused the two required functions. By merging the library with the fabric of the city the design preserves the public realm creating a vast public plaza, pierced by a series of jewel-like geometric forms that provide access and light to a subterranean library below. The core strength of this simple, clear design strategy is evident in the fact that little has changed between competition submission and completed design. The design is informal and flexible to accommodate the evolving role of the library and demands of a growing population.

  • 'On the day that it opened, we had lots of people outside in the amphitheater for the formal launch. It was a special occasion. At the same time, inside there were students cramming for exams, older people in armchairs reading newspapers in Mandarin, and kids running amok, having a party. The fact is, the community took ownership of the building within hours of it opening' - Clover Moore

  • A triangular glass entry gallery and cafe announces access to the space below. The sunken circular garden is a place for outdoor reading and children’s activities. A gleaming 6 storey tower stacks a series of separate community functions – a double-height reading room, computer lab with coding, robotics and 3D printing facilities, a ‘black box’ theatre and music room for practice and performance, and a bookable community spaced called the ‘Anything Room’. These facilities are designed to operate independently to the main library if needed and can be booked for after-hours events. The green-walled amphitheatre provides rear access to the library whilst doubling as an outdoor performance space for book readings, cinema and community theatre. The plaza is further activated by a large lawn, water play zone for children and scattering of robust timber furniture, including sun loungers with built in power outlets, which encourage the public to spend time in the plaza as if it were their own backyard. Perched on the transparent uppermost floor of the tower and illuminated by coloured lights, the plant room is a visible reminder of the project’s sustainable focus, which awarded it a 5-star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.