City of Perth Library, Perth, Australia – a Dream in universal design

Written by staff at City of Perth Library

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The modern, award-winning City of Perth Library is in the vibrant Cathedral Square precinct in the heart of the City. It is a public library, with a collection split across five levels and a range of spaces to accommodate a variety of functions and activities.

The interiors are warm and inviting and patrons enjoy the beautiful views of the City and Swan River. The Library building employs universal design principles, making it accessible for people with diverse abilities. There are ample public transport and parking options nearby.


The Perth Library began life in the mid-1800s to provide social and intellectual recreation for the new, pioneering Colony. While it has always been an important part of the fabric of the City, its physical presence has been limited, often housed as part of other civic buildings.

The new City of Perth Library, built on the approximate site of the original Library in 2016, is a purpose-built, stand-alone, state-of-the art building. The inviting cylindrical form of the seven storey structure is designed to encourage pedestrians through Cathedral Square and into its open, inclusive spaces.


Perth’s Lord Mayor described the Library as ‘the City’s lounge room’, a space for the people of Perth to meet, learn and create. The natural woods, locally quarried granite and natural fabrics used throughout the building add warmth to the space. Clever design allows light into reading spaces, and a four storey wall of plants provides visual respite. The beautiful ceiling artwork by Western Australian artist Andrew Nicholls is a visual retelling of the final act of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, showing some of the characters from the play surrounded by Western Australian flora and fauna. Most of the plants and animals depicted are threatened.


As a capital city Library, the building needs to be many things to many people.

The Library provides flexible spaces supported by technology for the business community, is warm and welcoming to the young, and safe and familiar to the frail and disenfranchised.

Photo/s by Frances Andrijich, courtesy of the City of Perth.


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