Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas, VIC

client: Arts Victoria

location: State Library of Victoria, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC

project value: $3.1 million

area: 1,650m2

role: interior design

completion date: June, 2009

In August 2008, Melbourne was officially awarded the title of the second UNESCO International City of Literature. A key component of the bid was the development of a literature ‘hub’ designed by peckvonhartel – the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.

Located in the south-west wing of the State Library of Victoria, the Wheeler Centre houses office accommodation and support infrastructure for key literary organisations – the Victorian Writers’ Centre, Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Australian Poetry Centre, Express Media, SPUNC and the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and performance and multipurpose spaces to support event and festival programming for the broader literary community.

Boasting a prominent street address on Swanston Street and Little Lonsdale Street, the Centre is identified by glowing companion elements along the Little Lonsdale Street frontage. The design by peckvonhartel features a glazed light beacon and an ethereal street canopy that unmistakably distinguishes the Centre, and frames its contemporary around-the-clock activities behind the premier heritage façade. Internal spaces provide flexible accommodation to foster collaborative literary enterprise, promote public access to specialty libraries and event programming, and to support the ongoing and distinctive contribution of each of the key stakeholder organisations.

In 2011, this design was awarded Best Interior Design – Public or Institutional at the Melbourne Design Awards and received an Excellence in Construction of Commercial Buildings award from the Master Builders Association.