Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub
The stunning new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub in Melbourne’s north-east is a testament to good design and collaboration between a municipal council, library patrons and architects.
The stunning new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub in Melbourne’s north-east opened a few months ago and I have to say, I’m impressed. The new complex has been tastefully added to the rear of the 1937 Heidelberg Town Hall; a monumental cream-brick Moderne building that contains the City of Banyule council chambers and meeting spaces. A 1970’s extension to the Town Hall was removed to make way for the new library whilst the old 1960’s library building, which was built adjacent to the Town Hall but had outlived its usefulness, was demolished to make way for the car park.
The new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub was designed by Croxon Ramsay, with lead architect Catherine Ramsay having been involved in designing many similar facilities. Their brief was to design a modern and accessible building that would house a library, art gallery, conference and meeting spaces, maternal and child health suites, theatrette and café whilst respecting and preserving the heritage-listed Town Hall.
As one enters the library via newly landscaped gardens, the contrast of rich timbers and grey stone immediately strikes the eye. The view ahead is to a service desk and gallery whilst a turn to the left reveals a massive timber staircase leading up to the library on the first floor. The space feels open and enticing. It’s immediately clear where all of the services can be found.
The library itself is comfortable and quiet. There’s plenty of seating and workspaces including meeting rooms and well-appointed desks along the windows complete with USB charge-points and views of the city. Small groups can sit around large communal tables to work on projects together whilst there’s plenty of room for solo research too.
The library has an astonishing collection of magazines and talking books along with the usual selection of fiction and non-fiction titles. Perhaps the best design element is the absence of the children’s section from the first floor altogether. The designers have placed the children’s section on the ground floor near the cafeteria so that young ones can make a little more noise without disturbing other library patrons. Prams can be accomodated easily and alongside an impressive selection of children’s titles is amble seating and climbing spaces. (Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the children’s library because it was occupied for the entire time that I had my camera at the library and people can be sensitive about the use of cameras in these sorts of spaces).
The library has a decent collection of books and the local history collection was moved from the old building into a larger dedicated space in the new. There is also a selection of gallery spaces and a theatrette that can host a variety of functions and events. I have sampled the fare at the apparently-nameless cafeteria and it’s decent if not especially novel or inspiring. The two coffees I have tried there were good and my daughter was especially impressed with the “babyccino” that she had.
The City of Banyule may be about to make a terrible decision regarding the fate of the Rosanna Library, but what they’ve done in Ivanhoe has been brilliant. Well done to all involved; the Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub is a real asset to the residents of the City of Banyule.
The Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub is located at 275 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe 3079. You can see more photos on my Flickr or take a virtual tour.