Environmental principles and rich cultural heritage have come to the fore in Chow:Hill’s contemporary design of Kirikiriroa’s new library, Te Kete Aronui Rototuna Library.
Inspired by the challenge to strengthen the heart of Hamilton’s Rototuna neighbourhood, Chow:Hill’s design, undertaken in partnership with Designwell and AECOM, has woven the rich cultural heritage of the local whenua into the contemporary aesthetic of the building. Chow:Hill was also able to work collaboratively with Hamilton City Council as its client and Te Haa o te Whenua o Kirikiriroa and Ngaati Wairere from early Concept Design to develop meaningful and considered design narratives.
Phillip Kempster, Chow:Hill Senior Principal and Senior Architectural Technician, said the integrated design reflects the natural environment of Rototuna’s wetlands, but has been combined with modern design practices to create a community asset fit for future use.
“Connection has been a central design principle of this project. We wanted to connect the site’s history with modern day development of the new Rototuna town centre, and we wanted to connect the interior of the building with the exterior landscape, encouraging users of the facility to spend time both indoors and out,” explains Kempster.
We wanted to preserve the heritage of the site and bring the outdoors in.
Sam Thomas, Chow:Hill Principal and Registered Architect, said the construction material chosen for the library enabled that connection to come to fruition.
“The use of Corten steel in the library’s entranceway was chosen for its compatibility with the building’s natural timber look which evokes a feeling of warmth,” Thomas explains. “The folded acoustic ceiling is also a key design element as it reflects the patterns more commonly found in weaving and the building’s high ceiling has created a large, open, space which maximises natural light.”
The area’s former wetland status also manifests itself in the design of the library’s interior. “Te Kete Aronui is the basket of knowledge, and within the library there are islands of books and wayfinding techniques that mimic wetland walkways. We wanted to preserve the heritage of the site and bring the outdoors in,” Thomas said.
Chow:Hill’s design of the outdoor space, which includes bike and car parks, a playground, skatepark, and village square, also reflects the cultural heritage of the landscape.
“Last year, we celebrated our 30th year in business and, although our work isn’t only in Hamilton, it’s been a privilege to design Te Kete Aronui Rototuna Library for the community in which Chow:Hill first began,” said Kempster.
Photography by Amanda Aitken
July 21, 2023