The UNSW BookshopKensington NSW Australia
Realised in close collaboration with the Development Team at the University of New South Wales, SJB’s revitalisation of the university’s aging campus bookshop into a dynamic retail space distils qualities from some of the world’s best-loved bookstores into a unique design vision that celebrates the book.
Providing a transparent link between the formal and social circulation spines of the campus, the bookshop engages an existing courtyard with an active retail shopfront designed to draw people in. The internal space further enriches the transparency, accommodating a large multi-use central zone which can be used for events and book launches.
Designed around the concept of three distinct rooms lined by bookshelves, intimate spaces hug the edges for smaller engagement or individual study. Spaces are carved in form and details are explored at micro scale all relating to the fine grain of a book – suggesting playful tactile qualities and the warmth of domestic interiors.
Externally the bookshop expresses itself as a beacon, from the Instagram-worthy mirror finished stainless steel awning to the organic geometries of the outdoor space, breathing new life into a formerly underutilised courtyard. Coupled with the retail experience, the reconfiguration allows for a pocket coffee shop that enriches the bookshop’s offering and providing space for people to linger comfortably, either on their own or with company.
This permission to remain in a public setting fosters chance encounters, promoting innovation and intellectual leadership within the university. As modes of learning are increasingly mediated by technology, the transformed UNSW bookshop reflects its shift from solely retail to a broader cultural function on campus, acting as a ‘place to go’ for daily engagement - as well as retreat - rather than simply a place of purchase.