RDH Architects convert old post office to bookless library with new wraparound glazing

RDH Architects have converted an old derelict post office in the Candian city of Cambridge, Ontario, into a bookless library with new glass volumes that are cantilevered over the adjacent Grand River.

The Idea Exchange provides a free community hub with spaces for learning, creativity, meeting and socialising.

The $11.1m (US$8.4m, €7.6m, £6.5m) project combined contemporary additions and design with restored elements of the original building, which was built in 1885.

Visitors are welcomed into the building through a glass-box entrance and up a glass-walled staircase that provides close-up views of restored masonry elements.

They are led through into a newly added 9,000sq ft (840sq m) glazed pavilion with table and lounge seating that functions as a space for work and gathering.

Its floor-to-ceiling glazing extends out over the water and allows views into the building, making the facility more approachable for other potential visitors, as well as views out over the surrounding area.

Original window openings have been converted to provide access between the new pavilion and the old structure, with bridges connecting to the two.

The lower level houses a black box theatre, film and audio recording suites, laptop dispensing and gaming areas and music recording and performance facilities, while the second level contains a children’s discovery centre.

A new floating glass room for meetings and teaching, an exterior rooftop terrace and a green roof overlook the river and provide more close-up views of the restored building elements.

Finally, a makerspace braced by steel trusses that are arranged in star shapes and that have been adapted to hold strips of lighting is housed in the building's peaked attic.

RDH Architects  library  Canada 
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company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
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