Kvadrat Softs Cells at State Library Victoria
State Library Victoria (SLV) opened in February 1856 as a place of learning and discovery for all Victorians. It is Australia’s oldest public library, and the fourth most-visited library in the world. Since its opening, the SLV has grown to span an entire city block and to evolve to meet the changing needs of the community. It was recently refurbished by Architectus in collaboration with Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects as part of the library’s ambitious Vision 2020 project. This transformation renewed the library’s heritage spaces, created new spaces for children, teenagers and events, and provided additional public space for visitors, researchers and students.
With more people and amenity, comes more noise. The refurbishment required a method of sound absorption that would not disrupt the heritage structure or aesthetic of the SLV. Kvadrat Soft Cells Broadline panels provided a discreet solution with 267 square metres of acoustic panels integrated into the ceiling design of the Swanston Street Welcome Zone, Ian Potter Queen’s Hall and Isabella Fraser Room.
Swanston Street Welcome Zone is grand and inviting foyer and the library’s original entrance. Set within the illuminated coffered ceiling, Kvadrat Soft Cells Broadline panels are inconspicuous while absorbing the sound that reverberates from more than 5,000 visitors passing through the entrance each day.
A majestic Italianate marble staircase at the end of the foyer leads to the impressive Ian Potter Queen’s Hall. Open to the public for the first time since 2003, Ian Potter Queen’s Hall is now a reading room by day and event space by night. Acoustic panels edged with strip lighting provide illumination and noise absorption above the tables and bookshelves, and the plain colouration – to match the 1860s paint scheme – helps dramatise the original filigree-patterned skylights and gallery friezes.
The Isabella Fraser Room, accessed via a separate entry, is an opulent event venue with classical styling, coffered ceilings and herringbone parquetry floors. As throughout the SLV, the ceiling panels are upholstered with Kvadrat Mi Casa textile, achieving a class A sound absorption and a 0.95 NRC rating. The appointed contractor, LL Installations fixed the Soft Cells to the ceiling with magnets, a standard attachment method that minimises the penetrations required for installation, as well as the impact to the heritage-listed building.
Architectus and Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s renewal of the SLV has revealed and celebrated the history and architecture of the iconic building. Taking a light hand to the refurbishment, new insertions, such as the Soft Cells, are discreetly integrated into the architecture, respecting its historical legacy and significance.