Devonport Library (Te Pataka Korero o Te Hau Kapua), New Zealand

I come across some marvellous stuff while doing Public LIbraries News.  This new library in New Zealand caught my eye, not least because of the specially installed cat flap. Sadly, I was not able to get to the other side of the world to see the lovely new building but Auckland Libraries have very kindly answered my queries and allowed me to use their photographs.  I still want their cat though.

Where was the funding obtained from the new library and what happened to the old one?

The Devonport Library project was a $7.8 million Auckland Council-funded project. Auckland Council is a largely ratepayer-funded local government organisation. Some elements of the project were funded by supporting organisations, such as Te Rongo Kirkwood’s glass artwork in the foyer and the lights that hang in the Matariki (Pleiades) formation in the library which were funded by the North Shore Libraries Foundation. The old library was demolished.

Is it normal to have such add extra aesthetics – artworks, lovely ceiling etc – to a library in Auckland?

Auckland Council is a champion for quality urban design in the Auckland region, it sees good urban design as critical for enabling Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city.  For this reason, council-led projects must lead by example and Devonport Library is no exception. The brief provided to the architects required innovation, efficiency, carefully selected materials, quality design and finishing, a controlled air conditioning system and flexibility to cope with future changes in technology or building use.

This stunning sculpture hanging from the ceiling in the community area of the building is called Te Aho Maumahara – Sacred Strand of Memories by artist Te Rongo Kirkwood. Made from kiln-fired fused glass, the sculpture honours Princess Te Puea Herangi and her peaceful opposition to the imprisonment of Waikato men at Fort Takapuna who refused to be conscripted

This stunning sculpture hanging from the ceiling in the community area of the building is called Te Aho Maumahara – Sacred Strand of Memories by artist Te Rongo Kirkwood. Made from kiln-fired fused glass, the sculpture honours Princess Te Puea Herangi and her peaceful opposition to the imprisonment of Waikato men at Fort Takapuna who refused to be conscripted

The Council’s public art approach is also based on best practice – it looks to integrate artwork into the development of projects, rather than retrofit spaces with unrelated pieces.  For example, Judy Millar’s Pattern Her Mind with Broken Time is a hand printed silk screen that serves as a functional security barrier to enable community use of the building when the library is closed.  Barry Brickell’s Harbour Ferries collection of 18 terracotta relief tiles were first installed in the old library in 1979 and have been designed into a special space in the new building.

The carved lintel adorns the entrance to Te Pātaka Kōrero o Te Hau Kapua. The five carved figures on the pare capture the history and individual styles of Te Kawerau ā Maki, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei, Ngai Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Paoa.

The carved lintel adorns the entrance to Te Pātaka Kōrero o Te Hau Kapua. The five carved figures on the pare capture the history and individual styles of Te Kawerau ā Maki, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei, Ngai Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Paoa.

Kaumatua from the five mana whenua of the area spoke at the blessing.

Kaumatua from the five mana whenua of the area spoke at the blessing.

 

That’s one beautiful ceiling

Some beautiful artwork on the stairs

Some beautiful artwork on the stairs

There's even a view to the bay.  I mean, how jealous are we?

There’s even a view to the bay. I mean, how jealous are we?

Collaboration with Māori is also a priority for Auckland Council. Five tribal groups identify the Devonport area as their ancestral lands and have worked with council to tell their stories throughout the building. A pare (lintel), with tribal carvings from each group, hangs over the main entrance; the design of carpet tiles has been derived from locally relevant Māori patterns; lights have been hung in the Pleiades constellation formation, known to Māori as Matariki and symbolising the Māori new year and the building has been ‘gifted’ a Māori name – Te Pataka Korero o Te Hau Kapua.

It's in the trees! - Artwork everywhere, including outside

It’s in the trees! – Artwork everywhere, including outside

Has there been an increase in usage?

Yes! In the first eight days, 13,532 people passed through the doors and an estimated 30,000 visited in the first month. This is more than twice the number of visitors the old library received.

Any problems with having a cat (health and safety, asthma etc?)

No! Benjamin has been part of the local community for many years, after making himself at home at the library one day – quite of his own accord! He arrived in 2002 and we think he’s around 14-16 years old.

A cat flap, especially designed for Benjamin the Library Cat

A cat flap, especially designed for Benjamin the Library Cat

Community consultation on plans for the new building provided plenty of feedback that we must make sure Benjamin is provided for, so when creating the design for the new library, the architects made provision for Benjamin by including a cat door in the staff workroom door.

Benjamin the library cat, with three of his staff

Benjamin the library cat, with three of his staff

During the day, Benjamin can come and go as he pleases. At night time he only has access to the staff workroom via his cat door and the security system is pet sensitive.

How is the Minecraft group going? Is that a common thing in your libraries?

The Minecraft group is going well with around 20 children attending each session.  Sessions are facilitated by one of the librarians and there is a Minecraft activity if children would like to do it. In general, teenagers and children are loving the teen section. Often the port hole window is occupied with teenagers sitting in the window seat, reading or chatting.

Many libraries in Auckland Council’s group of 55 libraries have Minecraft clubs or meet-ups. A typical session is held on a week day afternoon, after school and offers children the opportunity to get together with other young Minecrafters and play together in a safe environment. They bring their own device and use the libraries’ wifi. Those without devices can join in the Minecraft paper craft activities.

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It’s New Zealand so naturally this window reminds people of a hobbit hole

There's a ton of face on display and over in the corner there are some tablet PCs

There’s a ton of face on display and over in the corner there are some tablet PCs

All pictures are copyright Auckland Libraries and are used here with their kind permission. More pictures from the library are available at the Auckland Libraries Facebook page

  • #1 written by Kathryn
    about 1 year ago

    What a beautiful library. Designed with compassion and I love the reflection of local culture throughout. I too would want to sit by the porthole window.

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