Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018: GroupGSA's North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub

Laurence DragomirJune 29, 20180 min read

With the impending Victorian Architecture Awards dinner, concludes its Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018 series with the North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub - the first mixed-use public building to achieve a 6-Star Green Star rating in Victoria.

The awards are presented tonight.

Designed by GroupGSA, the new library and community hub has been shortlisted for awards in sustainable architecture, public architecture and Melbourne prize categories.

The North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub has been conceived as a multi-use space that supports the learning, health and well-being of the community.

Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018: GroupGSA's North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub
The North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub’s lush rooftop garden. Image: Tom Hutton

The building is home to the City of Yarra’s International House and includes a library, maternal child health facilities, in addition to a variety of community-focused facilities. 

Named ‘Bargoonga Nganjin’ which means ‘Gather Everybody’ in Woiwurrung - the language of the Wurundjeri people - the $17 million project was funded almost entirely by Council, and was the result of an extensive and exhaustive consultation process that included multiple stakeholders and the community.

GroupGSA says the design has driven a desire to create a socially inclusive space that integrated seamlessly with its local context, but was also had a minimal environmental footprint. 

The Library’s lush rooftop garden, exemplifies the potential for environmental design to draw people together, according to the architects.

Among the Library’s environmental features are its on-site power generation and pressurised air handling system incorporated into columns instead of bulkheads to maximise overhead space.

Additionally,  the architects specified locally-sourced materials, including reclaimed bricks from the surrounding area, to ensure product miles were minimised while also maintaining the character and materiality of North Fitzroy.

The architectural language of the Library reinforces this connection to its locale, with its triangular footprint taking inspiration from the old North Fitzroy post office building.

The community building features a bespoke screening mechanism, which became an integral part of the building’s external fabric, to manage glare and natural light. The perforated metal screens allows light to filter in and out, the design of which is derived from the trees in the Edinburgh Gardens, just immediately south of the site - using the local elements as a key to inform the design.

Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018: GroupGSA's North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub
The North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub. Image: Tom Hutton

What they say

The local people of North Fitzroy are an educated community that wanted to see a really robust sustainable outcome. We put the effort in to ensure all avenues were looked at, from energy use, to the lifecycle of the building, materials, orientation and water usage, all of those things.

We wanted to maximise the sustainable outcome of the building. “When designing this project, we took a pragmatic approach with regards to sustainability. The overarching aspect was to do all the basic elements really well in a way that related to the community and we’re really proud that this is the first time a six star green star rating has been awarded to a public mixed use building in Victoria.

To me one of the most eye catching of the green spaces is the rooftop garden. Featuring native plants and a productive garden, this area provides more than simple green respite on the site’s narrow footprint.

It has a cleverly integrated catchment system, positioned underneath the roof decking, which collects water to sustain landscaping as well as essential services for the whole building. Herbs and fruit trees on the roof supply the adjoining community kitchen, with students encouraged to pick things from the garden to use in cooking classes.

- Scott Francis, Principal, GroupGSA


This project exemplifies a leading approach to good sustainable design – in an environmental and social sense. Not only is it a building with leading green credentials but it has also been designed as a multipurpose and multi-generational space to support the diverse community of North Fitzroy.

The common denominator in successful projects is supportive and engaged clients who acknowledge the value that quality architecture interventions can bring to building strong and successful communities.

- Amy Muir, Victoria Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects

Lead Image: Tom Hutton 

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Victorian Architecture Awards 2018
North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub
City of Yarra
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