An internal university library
Arup has a long history, currently in its 70th year, and was founded by Danish Engineer and Philosopher Ove Arup. Arup came to Australia in the 1960s to work on the Sydney Opera House and continues to push boundaries in the built environment, thriving on projects that help shape a better world through its unique ownership structure and culture. Of the 1,700 staff in Australasia, 560 work in the Sydney office.
Arup Library (Australasia), is part of Arup University, an internal university, whose aim is to promote and achieve technical excellence through the development of its staff. The Library team is comprised of six highly skilled librarians, capable of carrying out in-depth research that supports the business. There are numerous physical collections within the region and the Sydney Library, including the Arup University space.
It has interesting spaces and furniture and the integration of the library into the workshop contemporises the special library context. The integration of the library into the 'fabric of the space' makes this library very appealing. Bespoke furniture within flexible spaces and easy accessibility from offices makes this a space that people would want to use.
The space enables serendipitous engagement with library staff and the library team is at the heart of the office. It is a flexible and collaborative space.
The library is reasonably extensive but able to be housed and displayed to the arrivals area. The openness of the collaborative work spaces provides ample opportunity for gatherings, staff manipulation of work spaces (away from traditional desk areas) and facilitates a studio-based learning and collaborative environment not unlike most schools of architecture.
The refurbishment is an experiment prior to an office move and intended to elicit more effective modes of collaborative and design practices as well as bring an immediacy of the library resources to all employees. The budget has been balanced against returns during the remaining lease term as well as the intended reuse of components in a future office fitout.
An industrial aesthetic
The aesthetic is industrial as expressed through polished concrete, garage doors, exposed services and a mixture of bespoke and flexible furniture configurations.
The staff and client response to the new space and prominence of librarians and the collection/resources has been overwhelmingly positive. The changing culture of learning and collaborating, as well as the use of new technologies such as 3D printing, has given credibility to the “workshop” and drawn staff to use the spaces.
The relevance of library staff to research and collaborative design activity has been demonstrable. The availability of librarians 'at the heart' rather than the periphery makes this a much more collaborative space than traditional special library environments of yesteryear.
The space encourages innovation according to a post occupancy review. There was a lot of consultation as would be expected in this environment and the space has reinvigorated library use and exposed knowledge as a differentiator. It is a very interesting example of a special library morphing into a collaborative working space.
Budget: $1.21 million on the Workshop refresh
Project completed: 09/03/2015