Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub

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By Anna Jones / Published by Dwell
In the historic downtown core of Newmarket, Ontario, in the Greater Toronto area, sits the Story Pod—an abstract black box filled with stacks of books.

Conceived as a community project, the Story Pod is an inventive gathering spot for learning and engagement created by the efforts of both private and public supporters.  Atelier Kasteli Buffey completed the architecture and design pro bono. HollisWealth provided funds for construction, while Scholastic Publishing and the Newmarket Public Library supplied the initial collection of books. Story Pod is a shining example of the positive impact that design, in conjunction with community support, can have on a urban environment. 

The construct is compact, sustainable, simple to build, and easy to transport.  Pure and simple in form, the 8' x 8' x 10' box is composed from standard dimensions of plywood and lumber, minimizing construction waste. During daytime hours, two walls open like a book, inviting the community to venture inside. At night, the library sits as a closed box and glows from within like a lantern, powered by concealed rooftop solar panels above. 

Wrapped in vertical wooden slats spaced at varying widths, the black exterior opens to a warm interior clad in veneer plywood.  Stacks of books fill the largest widths, while built-in seating provides refuge for getting lost in the books or the observation of the civic center. The wooden slats overlay clear polycarbonate plastic panels that create views inward and outward, engaging the curiosity of those passing by.  

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 1 of 7 - The Story Pod sits as a sculptural icon on the edge of a recently completed civic square, surrounded by Newmarket's traditional Victorian architecture. 

The Story Pod sits as a sculptural icon on the edge of a recently completed civic square, surrounded by Newmarket's traditional Victorian architecture. 

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 2 of 7 - Widely spaced vertical wood slats anchor attention to the stacks of books arranged on the interior.

Widely spaced vertical wood slats anchor attention to the stacks of books arranged on the interior.

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 3 of 7 - The folding walls provide an open door to fellow passersby. 

The folding walls provide an open door to fellow passersby. 

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 4 of 7 - Guests are invited to bring and take books, or lounge on the built-in seating while reading.

Guests are invited to bring and take books, or lounge on the built-in seating while reading.

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 5 of 7 - Wrapped in marine grade veneer plywood, the interior walls frame a warm oasis for reading and viewing.

Wrapped in marine grade veneer plywood, the interior walls frame a warm oasis for reading and viewing.

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 6 of 7 - Views of Newmarket, the Victorian-era suburb of Toronto, are framed and visible from the interior of the Story Pod. 

Views of Newmarket, the Victorian-era suburb of Toronto, are framed and visible from the interior of the Story Pod. 

Toronto's Story Pod Doubles as a Lending Library and Community Hub - Photo 7 of 7 - Light shines through the slatted wall, providing illumination for nighttime gatherings and events. 

Light shines through the slatted wall, providing illumination for nighttime gatherings and events. 

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