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Spowers’ refurbishment design transforms Holmesglen library in creative hub

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Spowers’ refurbishment design transforms Holmesglen library in creative hub


Contemporary, creative and cost-effective, the Holmesglen library has undergone an extensive and powerful refurbishment by Spowers’ architects and interior designers, supported by the Victorian Government.

The traditional suburban TAFE library has been transformed into a thriving and dynamic student hub after the practice rose to the challenge of upgrading Holmesglen Institute’s 20-year-old Chadstone campus library recently, deploying a string of clever architecture and interior design strategies to modernise the space in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

The project team identified ways to efficiently allocate limited resources by circumventing replacement costs for expansive materials like ceilings and flooring, opting instead to retain and reimagine existing structures and materials.

The transformative design is headlined by a new entranceway, adorned with eye-catching glass fins in Holmesglen’s signature shade of turquoise. This simple yet striking façade hints at the buzzing environment that awaits inside.

 “We undertook a rigorous assessment of all available assets,” says Spowers director and interior designer  and Holmesglen alumnus, Annie Robinson.

“A lot of the fit-out and furniture was in very good condition, so we were keen to try and retain as much of it as possible. 

“Of course, there’s a cost benefit to that approach but it’s also environmentally responsible because we’re not unnecessarily contributing to landfill.” 

In this refurbishment, nothing was lost, however everything was transformed and reused.

As the library’s book collection had been significantly reduced in line with modern libraries’ growing digital footprints, Spower repurposed all the existing bookshelves, which were redeployed to segment a variety of spaces, such as those for group activities and independent study areas. 

The shelving was also recrafted to comply with current height requirements then covered in laminate and fitted onto plinths to further enhance its appearance. 

The library’s original floorplan featured a central void with tiered flooring that stepped down to meet the void, and elevated offices that overlooked it. 

Carpeted in a turquoise shade, in line with Holmesglen’s branding, the pavilion adds a vibrant pop of colour to the library’s interior. 

Designed to be totally flexible, the pavilion can be completely opened or enclosed and used as an exhibition space or to host visiting industry professionals. Sliding doors and acoustic panelling ensure privacy for groups using the space.

The students were always at the centre of the project as they were key to the success of Spowers’ design.

“At the beginning of the project, we engaged directly with Student Body representatives and asked them what would entice them to use the library more frequently,” says Robinson. 

“We took those findings and incorporated them into our design.”

This is how the library became a hub for creativity and learning with a myriad of Individual cubicles, booths for groups to congregate, and high benches for ‘perching’ laptops during short visits.

“The library is now the heart of our Chadstone campus — a space that feels both inviting and invigorating,” says Holmesglen executive director of corporate and commercial services Paul Culpan.

“We are delighted Spowers identified innovative ways to deliver an affordable and sustainable design solution that complements both online and offline learning. 

“The result is outstanding.”

Photography: Tatjana Plitt.

Spowers has also developed a carefully curated aged care residence that uses apricot and espresso carpet tiles from Shaw Contract to foster a calming, uplifting and comfortable setting for seniors.


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