Stunning new Marrickville library opens in a heritage-listed former hospital

Opened on Saturday the 31st of August, the newly unveiled Marrickville library integrates contemporary design and technology with the conserved heritage elements of the original hospital building.

The state-of-the-art facility also has expansive gardens, exhibition spaces, an 85,000 book collection, a cafe by local coffee legends Double Roasters, and more.

A striking new library has opened up at the heritage-listed site of the old Marrickville hospital, featuring incredible architectural design, an 85,000 book collection and more.

The new Marrickville library occupies the site of the old Marrickville hospital, which was built in 1899 and closed in 1990. The heritage-listed building has remained unused since its closing, but now, award-winning architectural firm BVN have breathed new life into some of its original features.

The repurposed features include the former hospital bathrooms, which will now serve as meeting rooms open to the public, and the tall windows, which were once spaced out between hospital beds for ventilation, now providing an abundance of natural light to the reading room.

The striking new facility is also incredibly environmentally sustainable, with recycled elements used wherever possible and clever design features that reduce energy consumption.

“Better design comes from constraints, and the constraints of the historical hospital building meant there was an opportunity for different scales of space,” says Brian Clohessy of BVN, who directed the project.

“We’re in this voluminous, high-ceilinged space, with light and a more dynamic environment,” he says of the modern library foyer. “But when you step into the old building, it feels a bit quieter, like a more considered space.”

Due to an increase in library shelving space, over 20,000 new books will be added to the current collection, taking the collection to 85,000 books. There will also be a robotic collection available to borrow for the first time.

The entire second floor is dedicated to the Council’s historic art book collection that, until now, has not been easily accessible to the public. The 4000-volume art-history collection had previously been in storage in the basement of Marrickville’s Town Hall for 13 years, it includes many out-of-print titles and tells a rich historical story of Australia.

The grounds, renamed Patyegarang Place after the first Aboriginal person to teach the local Dharug language to a settler, also feature more than 1200 square metres of landscaped outdoor gardens, a children’s playground, private study rooms, a cafe run by Marrickville’s Double Roasters, and more.

To celebrate the opening of the new library, and to teach the public more about the rich history of the site, Marrickville Council will be hosting a year of library tours, events and programs. You can see the full schedule of events here.