Te Awamutu Public Library

Case Study

Waipa District Libraries

Account Manager

Brent Parker

Interior Designer

Penny Mills


Opus Hamilton


Ceillings Unlimited


Oliver Crawford

A home away from home for many has been the local library – a palace of print. For those who have fallen in love with the building that houses decades of knowledge and imagination, the library holds nothing but respect and adoration. 

One of the many people that holds the libraries in high regard is Mayor of Waipa, Jim Mylchreest, “Libraries play a crucial role in the community. They are not only just a place to get books anymore, they are often the heart of the community and are the center of all sorts of information”.

If you’ve ever visited the town of Te Awamutu, you would know this holds true, and the library has a sentimental value that resonates throughout the community. Te Awamutu’s long running historic building that had once catered to just 17 subscribers, has grown to a regular presence of at least 30,000 people, and the homely building could no longer do its job. 

Te Awamutu library called on Opus Architects to bring to life a building that depicted Te Awamutu’s proud heritage and catered to the mass of people and print, in a modern open plan space.

Massey University, nationwide BNZ offices, Westfield shopping centers, international public transport stations and an ever-growing stack of over 20 design awards, Opus, unsurprisingly, succeeded in delivering on this with a functional and punchy design. 


The building is solar-powered and has a strong, simple and modern design that utilizes a limited palette of materials. The design includes a perforated metal exterior cladding, termed filigree, that symbolizes the interconnected multiple uses of the library. The ‘interconnected’ theme is continued through the interior design, with eight functional areas sharing modern, versatile, polished internal surfaces and exposed ducting. Openness of design and multiplicity of function, however, mandated a modern and considered approach to acoustic management. 

Penny Mills of Opus, lead designer for the Te Awamutu library project, said that the call for a punchy design element with high performing acoustic treatment led her to Autex. 

Autex's Quietspace® Frontier™ was used in the main areas of the library, reception and children’s zone.  Frontier™ is an innovative modular acoustic ceiling system designed for modern aesthetic and targeted sound absorption. A patented suspension system, made up of aluminum channels and clips for a secure and flexible fit, Frontier can either be suspended or fixed straight to the ceiling structure. 

Frontier™ was used as a focal point in the library. Jonathan Mountfort, Autex Senior Design Engineer says the idea was to proactively incorporate the rich history of Te Awamutu into the spatial design scheme by depicting the local myth of 3 children. The Frontier system was designed as three overlaying, circular, interwoven rafts suspended above the kid’s zone and reception area. This also helped differentiation of areas in the open plan space. 

In areas of ‘high traffic’, noise and reverberation was significantly reduced. Mills goes on to say, “they wanted to absorb noise from the reception area while creating a great piece of art in the entry. In the areas where Autex products were used, there was significant improvement of acoustic performance”.

Autex Account Manager, Brent Parker, says of the design process, “Autex were able to engineer, design and make functional a complete system. The lighting of the design, like every use of space, was crucial, so we worked with Penny and the team to incorporate the lighting into the Frontier system. We wanted to not only make the area of space acoustically functional and aesthetic but also practical”. 

The project received a warm welcome from the community and has garnered national attention for the outstanding design. In the running to win a Designers Institute of New Zealand Award, Te Awamutu Library has become a concrete staple in the community.


Project details

3 Custom Frontier 24mm circles above kids’ reading and activity area, 1 custom 12mm system above reception entrance suspended from box section frame with seismic suspension cables, water-cut dovetail “soffit” sections included to incorporate flush mounted LED lighting.

Colours – Falling Water, Savoye, Empire, Flatiron, Iron Bank




Opus Architecture is a leading team of building design professionals - architects, interior designers and project managers. 


We provide building design services to the public, commercial, health, leisure and education sectors. We’ve earned a reputation for innovative design solutions with a strong focus on sustainability and our work has been recognised with many top design awards. 


We often work with in-house structural, civil and building services engineers to provide a total, managed, multi-disciplinary design service.


For more information on Opus, visit - our website:  http://www.opus.co.nz/

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