"Gde Se Nalazi?" explores the lost sense of community in Newcastle, specifically the Central Business District which was known to be buzzing and lively with lots of retail stores, cafes and other recreational activities. Hunter Street still retains those values however the community which once heavily based their schedules around the CBD have now been rediscovered in Charlestown Square and Westfield Kotara shopping centres. The divide has impacted the value of Hunter Street and has moved away from the town centre which consequently impacts on the activation of the street as well as the value of having a CBD.
The project is inspired by my parents time in Newcastle. "Gde Se Nalazi?" is a common Serbian saying for "where abouts is it?" when looking for directions. Having immigrated from Serbia during the post-war period made quite an impact on their ability to communicate and find a sense of community, which they have gradually discovered in Newcastle. Now-a-days when they relive their moments and nostalgic memories in Newcastle, they do not remember it being as quiet and lifeless as it is now. The search for a sense of identity is unpacked through a series of design decisions which result in the concept of a split programme library.
A library is usually considered as a retreat or icon feature within the heart of a city. It is a place of sanctuary away from our busy lives and a place for learning, sharing ideas and communication. When my parents first moved, they immediately thought of learning English and meeting new people - at a library. The fact that it is such a universal language shows that it could go beyond a traditional symbolic feature of a city - it offers a potential sanctuary which Hunter Street needs.
The project explores ways to restore the liveliness and what aspects of community could potentially bring people back into the centre of town. The exploration of what a 21st century library could be relies on the research and analysis of Hunter Street to solve the missing piece of the puzzle within the community. The project moves away from commercial containers and concrete jungle, and focuses on human scale design objectives to humanise Hunter Street and create a deeper and more personal connection with the community.
The definition of a library is redefined as it tests the ideology of a building serving the traditional purpose of learning. I.e, a teacher teaching students with a chalkboard at the front of the room. We know that learning is not as directed as it use to be and so the project "Gde Se Nalazi?" plays on the idea that a library, or community hub, is a journey of experiences which depend on the medium in which we explore it in.
An amphitheatre and laneway is proposed to convert into a contemporary library programme which extends beyond it's traditional meaning. The hybridity of the design allows for a multitude of options which serve the community. From community gardens, art classes, to night bars, the design even encourages hiring the space out for the utilisation of events. "Gde Se Nalazi?" looks to go beyond the concrete buildings and urges to question intimate and personal architecture and how that may positively affect our outlook on designing within the city.