What is a library with no books? This is the central question that informed the Jasper Place Branch Library. The client’s goals focused upon providing a new social heart within an older suburban neighborhood while providing a flexible building that responds to the dramatic changes taking place within the delivery of library services. The change in focus from the imperatives of housing the book collection to maximizing the potential for social space has guided the design of this project.
The library is organized by a large flexible social space that is sheltered by a column-free undulating roof form. This space incorporates a continuous raised floor that allows for flexibility over time and eliminated the need for mechanical/electrical services at roof level. The social space folds up from the ground plane to a mezzanine level, allowing for the insertion of a volume of “back of house” functions. The movement of the roof form creates differing characters and spatial conditions that help define zones of use. The overall result is an open, inviting and memorable public space that provides a strong public presence in a neighborhood that has lacked meaningful indoor public space.
The structure is cast-in-place concrete on piles, with a large-scale folded-plate concrete roof that spans the space by means of curvilinear folds, punctuated by skylights and acoustic panelling. The roof is designed to shed water and melting snow though the resulting series of peaks and troughs of the folded plate. The large southern exposure of glazing invites considerable daylight and solar gain during Edmonton’s long winter season, while being protected from the summer sun by a range of shading strategies. The roof lowers down the ground on the east and west sides to control excessive heat gain from low angle summer sun.