Phive, Parramatta Square

Phive is much more than a Library. It is an exceptional public and cultural facility filled with community and exhibition spaces as well as the City of Parramatta’s Council Chamber. A new city landmark and a place where locals and visitors can meet, discover, learn and share.

Around this multidisciplinary program, the design is infused with innovation and sensitivity. Its shape is sculpted within the angle of the winter sun plane, respecting access to sunlight in the public square all year round. The roof takes on a slight curve to the top of the new civic spire, with colours moving from bright to pale at the top, allowing the building to feel like it is reaching into the clouds.

Colour is an important element of the project, attracting attention and signalling the building as a playful and welcoming public space in the heart of the Parramatta central business district. The unexpected array of powerful and memorable red hued colours was inspired by the local flora, native waratahs, banksias and grevilleas. The result is a building in that stands out in contrast to the neutrally toned towers around it.

The envelop, which is both a roof and a façade, is made of hundreds of folds that open views successively to the West and the East, to the square and the sky, expressing the uniqueness of this public and cultural building. It is also a very sustainable skin, protecting from heat while filtering light and views. The poetic quality of the roof transpires on the inside with a soft red glow around the edge of the crisp white interior surfaces.

Inside this tessellated volume is a cascade of public floors facing the square like a giant amphitheatre. Each floor steps back from below, overlook the other as you move up the building, and each with views to Parramatta Square. The building and the square foster a strong relationship and become one place, a theatre where the building becomes the audience and the square becomes the stage.

The ground floor is designed as an extension of the Square: an urban living room, a flexible place to meet, exhibit and explore. It presents itself as a red cocoon, with pops of vibrant green furniture scattered throughout its interior. This large open foyer connects directly into the back of the old Town Hall. A ground floor café activates the corner of Parramatta Square and the new Civic Link. A large exhibition-discovery centre is located just below the ground floor lobby.

The library floors are organised with open flexible lounge and study areas facing the public square. Behind are the collections, and closest to the circulation core of the building are all the smaller enclosed meeting rooms and services. This gives maximum flexibility to adapt to future uses of the building.

The third level is dedicated to community rooms with two large flexible community spaces facing the square. The council chambers, at the top-level, cantilever symbolically over the old Town Hall. This heroic engineering feat is quite an experience to behold and reinforces the important historical relationship to old Parramatta Town Hall.

Phive is an exciting new civic space in the heart of the central business district of Parramatta. It offers a welcoming space for the community and visitors alike to connect, research, remember and shape the future of this vibrant city.

Phive is designed by Australian firms, DesignInc, and Lacoste+Stevenson, and French firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture.  The project began in 2016 as the Jewel of the Square. In 2022, in its final iteration, Phive is more akin to the Flower of the Square, with its intricately woven façade a reference to our unique local native flora.

Location: Church St, Parramatta NSW, Australia -33.815868, 151.003928
Architects in association: DesignInc, Manuelle Gautrand Architecture, Lacoste+Stevenson Architects,
Date: 2016 – 2022
Team: Richard Does, Manuelle Gautrand, Thierry Lacoste, Tom Fletcher, David Stevenson, Ian Armstrong, Andrii Grybovsky, Susana Loureiro, Ngoc Tran, Nicolas Bien, Sebastien Lafresiere, Cecile Ortolo, Violetta Boyd, Francesco Camillo, Sandor Duzs, Fiona Robertson, Jaycy Lee, Ian Armstrong , Yna Yin, Nicolo Urbini, Lodi Van Eeghen, Erin Liu, Soozy Lee, Joe Jiang, Steven Holmes, Samuel Murray, Johny Nguyen, Khiem Nguyen, Jay Rim, Mabel Ibekwe, Tim Garry,

Photography : Brett Boardman