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Story Pod (2015)

Location: Newmarket, ON
Architects: Atelier Kastelic Buffey Inc.
Date of Completion: 2015

OAA Awards 2017 Design Excellence Finalist 


The ‘Story Pod’ is a community-supported book sharing library designed for the Town of Newmarket to promote literacy, inclusiveness and social exchange.

 
Site plan/ Diagram Credit: Atelier Kastelic Buffey Inc.


The pod is located at the southern edge of a prominent civic square (Riverwalk Commons), close to Main Street, Fairy Lake Park and a series of walking trails. Situated on a small paved surface adjacent to Fairy Lake creek and a terraced seating area, it is at the centre of a naturally active public node. With abundant pedestrian activity along the trails and at seasonal farmers markets and festivals in the square, the pod simultaneously feeds off the existing context and provides a complimentary layer of interaction, acting as social condenser and platform for both independent reading and communal gathering.




Plan and Elevation/ Diagram Credit: Atelier Kastelic Buffey Inc.


Based on project guidelines (compactness, transportability, energy efficiency and ease of construction) the Story Pod utilizes a pure, simple form to maximum capacity and impact. When closed, the abstract, black volume 8’ (width) by 8’ (diameter) by 10’ (height) acts as a distinct urban marker. As users move around, the rhythm and density of its vertical exterior battens changes, allowing light and views to filter through. During the day, two walls pivot open to reveal levels of built-in seating and bookshelves; the pod extends itself outwards, beyond its compact footprint to engage the public and draw curiosity and interest inward. In the evening, solar powered LED lighting provides a warm glow from within showcasing the books when closed.






Photo Credit: Shai Gil


The project’s ethos of community stems from the roots of its development process and the collaboration of everyone involved. It was made possible through a generous donation from local business HollisWealth, pro-bono design services from the architects, and volunteers from Newmarket Public Works staff to fabricate the pod. The project fulfilled all goals in its compactness, ingenuity and simplicity of design, allowing for transportability, openness and ease of use. It has been an unprecedented success for the Town of Newmarket in its effect on the community, evident through shared stories of gratitude and inspiration, and a clear sense of pride in ownership. 






Photo Credit: Bob Gundu

Small in scale and modest in its means and materiality, the pod promotes architectural excellence, both in the value of public-private partnerships and the tremendous impact that a small structure can have on an urban scale.                                                                                                                                                                                

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