Here’s A Novel Idea: A Pint-Size Lending Library As A Placemaking Intervention

It’s no secret that a thriving downtown is good for a city. To coax residents to its historic core, the town of Newmarket, a growing suburb north of Toronto, got creative and used architecture to get the job done. Enter the Story Pod, a portable lending library designed by Atelier Kastelic Buffey.

Though it’s only 64 square feet, the pavilion is a veritable jewel box, with thoughtful details incorporated throughout the design. Two pivoting doors fitted with custom steel hinges open—like a book—to reveal reading nooks. Solar panels power the LED lights inside and the whole structure can easily be transported (a necessity due to Canada’s notorious winter weather).

Bob Gundu

Held to a tight budget—the structure is a donation to the city from HollisWealth and the architects worked pro bono—AKB had to get creative with humble materials. The design team fashioned black-stained slatted plywood walls to enclose the library.

“The variation in its density and transparency provides different depths of view, which encourages one to continue to move around, explore, and interact with the pavilion as it unfolds more slowly and kinetically than a static façade,” Kelly Buffey, one of AKB’s co-founders, says.

“In this way, the pavilion remains an engaging object even when closed,” Aaron Finbow, an architect at AKB, adds.

The architect and city hope the lending library becomes a treasured civic space and one that the city’s residents will visit time and again.

“Spaces that are not only functional and well performing but also beautiful and inspiring can have a profound or sometimes subtle effect on people’s daily experiences,” Buffey says. “We hope people come away having experienced something intimate yet communal, fun and unique in their own backyard.”DB