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Curtin University library redevelopment will modernize iconic campus structure

Brutalist structure to be softened with redesign by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

April 19, 2019 |

Renderings: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Modern architecture is known for its sleek, streamlined design, but it’s also often been aptly characterized as being cold and sterile. In Perth, Australia’s Curtin University, one such building is getting a major makeover.

The TL Robertson Library, which has two million users per year, is being revamped by Danish architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, with the help of Australian architecture firm Hames Sharley. The changes are meant to help the building be more user-friendly and also fit better into the green campus.

Constructed in 1972, the library was originally designed with little natural daylight to protect the books and other materials in its collection. Now, Schmidt Hammer Lassen is designing a “living library” by opening up new pathways for visual and physical connectivity in the building, while bringing in more natural light. The new open design is expected to better meet needs of users.



Green spaces and tree-lined walkways characterize Curtin University’s campus. With the TL Robertson Library centrally located on the campus, which makes it a natural focal point, the school’s leaders wanted to take better advantage of that location and the possibilities inherent in the building.

The new architectural design will invite the landscape in, using timber and other natural materials to enhance the warmth of the building. Elongated windows are meant to provide better views of trees in the adjacent park. 

With its redesign, the library will fit the goals of the university and its staff and students.

“We were driven by three core principles when designing TL Robertson Library: openness, access and well-being,” said Morten Schmidt, Founding Partner of Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “The redevelopment complements the building’s original features with bold, contemporary architectural interventions that focus on warm, natural materiality, and contrast the current structure with open lightness.”

The warmth that will be engendered by the library’s redesign also is expected to encourage the space to be more often used as a community gathering spot, too. 

“This project will support the TL Robertson Library’s role as a key meeting place and activity centre on Curtin’s Perth Campus and its transformation into a place for digital innovation and social collaboration for students, staff, and the wider community,” said Professor Deborah Terry, Vice-Chancellor at Curtin University.

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