Neeson Murcutt + Neille

Broken Hill Library

Once a thriving city of 35,000 people in its mining heyday, Broken Hill in far west New South Wales is now home to fewer than 18,000 residents. Looking to re-energise the urban centre, the council has initiated a series of rejuvenation projects of which the Community Hub with Library and Archives is central.

NMN explored what culture is and means today in Broken Hill and then how to build urban coherence and vibrancy though a new library. With sustainability, resourcefulness and climate responsiveness fundamental to this remote place, the project retains and upgrades the existing library, transforming it into archives as well as connecting it to the new library facility. A significant social asset, the new library is designed as a community living room with a dedicated children’s area, youth areas, appropriate seating for the elderly, meeting rooms and tea stations.

The existing library is a ‘welcome place’ for the local Wilyakali people and the many other Aboriginal people who live in and around Broken Hill. The new library extends this remit, incorporating dual language, a keeping place, and opening on to public spaces designed as outdoor living rooms with Indigenous landscape, including edible plants.