COMMUNAL ACT OF DESIGNAlbion Library’s design embodies acommunity-driven narrative resulting from aseries of consultations. The communitypresented a major shift from originalideations. Employing this feedback, Perkins+ Will encouraged the community to drivethe design vision.Located in Toronto’s Rexdale neighbourhood,Albion Library is one of the city’s busiestpublic libraries, serving as a social epicenterfor the suburb.Recognizing the facility as a critical to thecommunity, Perkins+Will understood thatclosing down the library during constructionwas not an option.
Instead, the team chose toerect a new facility in the adjacent,underutilized parking lot, allowing branchoperations to continue.The old site will be transformed into alandscaped parking lot mirroring a publicplaza and market square.VIBRANT UNVEILINGReminiscent of a walled garden, thedynamic façade gives the illusion of afront porch trellis – its privacy veilinjecting colour into the street.Punctuated by courtyard gardens andinterior pavilions, Albion Library’sfootprint is a pure square.
The perimeteris defined by a screen of polychrometerracotta tiles in bright, unexpectedcolours. Contrasting the monotone asphaltthat surrounds the site, the form offers arespite from the busy arterial context ofAlbion Road.WELCOMING PEOPLE INSurrounding the library, expansive windows offer pedestrians views inside, showcasingprogramming and drawing users into the space. The entry is highly visible from the street, publictransit, and the community plaza.
Ample seating is available in the public forecourt near the mainentrance. A generous planting of new trees flank the site, growing into an rich amenity greenspace. COLOUR BETWEEN THE LINESBuffering between theresidential neighbourhoodand busy four-lane road,Albion Library offers acolourful counter to thetraffic outside.Bringing an unexpectedvibrancy into the distinctlyconcrete streetscape, AlbionLibrary’s façade playfullyjuxtaposes its surroundings.SEEN FROM ALL ANGLESStepping inside, transparency fosterscommunity.
Strategically placed glass wallsseparate meeting rooms, while low visualbarriers create defined areas for activity anddiverse programming.Every space is visibly accessible, yetconnected to the library’s circulation hub. COURTYARD FOR ALL-AGESMultigenerational design is harnessedthrough the facility’s three courtyardgardens – dedicated to youth, teens andadults.Weaving nature and natural light deep intothe library’s interiors, spaces allow forquiet contemplation and study.
Thecourtyards provide secure zones forexterior programming.Bright colours and geometric shapescreate a sense of informality andplayfulness in the curated greenspace.URBAN LIVING ROOMMirroring the community’s evolvingneeds, Perkins+Will’s design movesbeyond the bookshelf, prioritizingspaces for collaboration and creation.The Urban Living Room resembles ainformal extension of the home,providing an adaptable space forcultural events, concerts and readings,from spoken word to hip-hop battles.The library’s Innovation Studio Labcontributes to cultural production andhouses a myriad of STEM programming,empowering youth to enhance theirtechnical skills in coding, circuitbuilding and 3D Printing.NATURAL BALANCENotched light is featured throughout – carefully placed windows and lighting fixtures illuminate each area.The Library footprint is divided into a series of open zones.
Careful composition of the spaces creates a rich and varied
plan that accommodates open, cellular, and private spaces, ensuring ease of access. Programmatically, the buildinghouses a wide range of services that go beyond traditional book lending to include cultural orientation, socialintegration, employment skills, and access to technology and knowledge.MULTI-USE URBAN PLAZAThe new parking lot is designed as amultifunctional public space capable ofaccommodating a wide variety of marketsand cultural events – from festivals andconcerts to farmers markets.
It’s equippedwith both water and power for maximumflexibility..