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Talking up Docklands' newest showpiece

Docklands and the term 'showpiece' have yet to become close friends, at least within our context. The suburb's newest venue, Library by the Dock, will go some way to correcting that assertion as the venue prepares for its opening on Saturday 31st May.

Conceived by Clare Design, documented by Hayball, Library at the Dock is a welcome contrast to Victoria Harbour's existing architecture and is designed as a multi-purpose centre consisting of library, community hub, 120 seat performance space and research/education space. To mark the opening, City of Melbourne and Places Victoria have devised a day of celebrations, including activities highlighting Melbourne's status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Docklands' next generation Library at the Dock will open its doors on Saturday 31 May with the inaugural Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Oration, presented by acclaimed author, Arnold Zable. The Oration will celebrate Melbourne’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature and mark the opening of Docklands’ spectacular new community hub at the intersection of Bourke and Collins streets.

Activities and programs throughout the open day will showcase the library’s special places and spaces – including the recording studio, performance space, children’s library and the digital, music and entertainment collections. Acting Lord Mayor, Cr Susan Riley said the opening event was the culmination of three years’ work from a unique tri-partnership of Lend Lease, Places Victoria and the City of Melbourne.

“Library at the Dock is the most modern public library, in the most spectacular setting, in Australia,” Cr Riley said. “The Library at the Dock will be a place of inspiration for generations to come. For the creative and the literary, for students and for families, this building will provide Docklands with a civic heart. “Globally Melbourne is recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature and this exciting new facility will enrich the culture of our city and the community of Docklands.”

Docklands' next generation library to open its doors - Places Victoria

If talking about first impressions, Library at the Dock garners positive outcomes with the earthy feel, contrast and small-scale intimacy of the area working quite well. Whether by design or fault, the aqua reflections to the dark under canopy brings a shimmering, dynamic quality to the northern facade as well.

Library at the Dock distinguishes itself within the existing paved context quite well, by way of timber decking stretching from the edge of Victoria Harbour through to Collins Street/North Wharf Road to the south. While the architecture of Victoria Harbour can be hit-and-miss, the open spaces are generally excellent and Library at the Dock's associated park is no exception. It is functional, well sized and looks great.

With additional community facilities to the west of Library at the Dock either planned or seeking approval, the area is envisaged as the thriving heart of Victoria Harbour. If these additions are to the standard of Library at the Dock, there will be plenty more positives to talk about down at Docklands soon enough.

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