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New page turns on Curtin’s contemporary library

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Curtin University’s iconic library has reopened following a complete building transformation to recreate it as a hub of digital innovation and collaboration for students, staff and the wider community.

After two years of major construction works including a 12-month closure, the TL Robertson Library has been upgraded to make it more inclusive and sustainable, with more than 15,000 sqm of refurbished space and targeting a 5-Star Green Star Design and As Built sustainability rating.

Built in 1972, the library’s redevelopment includes a new large atrium with auditorium-style study stairs, flexible teaching spaces, an entire floor dedicated to quiet individual study, a reading room overlooking the pines at Henderson Court and a new outdoor terrace space that is set to open mid-year on level four.

There are important accessibility features including an equity room designed specifically for students with a disability or particular learning requirements, a resting room for students needing quiet or rest time, a new changing place, parent room and inclusive toilets.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said the TL Robertson Library remained a key landmark in the historical centre of the Bentley campus.

“It’s so wonderful to have the beating heart of our campus back in action for the start of the academic year,” Professor Hayne said.

“Our iconic library is an integral part of the Curtin student experience and these long-overdue refurbishments will ensure it responds to the contemporary needs of our students, staff and the wider community. This refurbishment has preserved the building’s iconic brutalist architecture and created an uncluttered, simple, bright and natural interior fit-out that brings the building into the 21st century.”

Leading national design firm Hames Sharley worked with international partner Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects to deliver the TL Robertson Library’s design solution, and globally integrated real estate group Lendlease led the construction.

Three new public artworks for the library were commissioned by the John Curtin Gallery. These were developed by the artist team of Susan Milne and Greg Stonehouse, from New South Wales, in partnership with Nyungar artist Justin Martin and in consultation with the refurbishment project’s Indigenous consultant, Dr Richard Walley.

Situated in the heart of the library, the atrium suspended sculpture offers an Indigenous perspective on climate change, made up of hand-made porcelain flora and message sticks enclosed in hand-blown glass vials elevated within suspended black-butt timber twists which reference the Leeuwin Current. Both the Northern and Southern entrance statement pieces focus on the movement of the Leeuwin Current along the shoreline.

The refurbished building will also include new disability and other equity features including a Changing Places bathroom. This will be one of only 244 facilitites available nationally and Curtin is only the fifth university in the country to offer a fully accessible adult change facility on its campus.

The TL Robertson Library is the busiest building on Curtin’s Bentley campus with more than two million visits a year, which includes members of the wider community.

The library required significant infrastructure works to address end-of-life services and ensure a sustainable future.

The refurbished building reopened for Curtin students during orientation week with a formal re-opening held this week.

For more information about the TL Robertson Library, visit here.

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