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Springdale Library & Komagata Maru Park, Brampton, Ontario ARCHITECT RDH Architects TEXT Jocelyn Lambert Squires PHOTOS Nic Lehoux PROJECT

Nestled in a suburban Brampton neighbourhood not far from the edge of Ontario’s Greenbelt is a horizontal plane of strikingly striped and curving glass. It’s an incongruous sight, surrounded by miles of single-family housing and next to a set of big box stores and parking lots. As a recent article in the Bramptonist puts it, “an alien spaceship has landed in the city.” It’s a welcome arrival, though. This is Brampto`n Library’s new Springdale Branch, a single-storey, 1,858-square-metre library with an additional 464-square-metre city-operated community space. The $16.7-million-project filled a need in a city underserved by libraries, and was designed with the adjacent Komagata Maru Park. Though full of people reading, working and socializing at all times of day, “it doesn’t look like a library” is a common refrain from users and even library staff. Words like “futuristic” appear often in comments, writing and conversation. To Brampton, this is not what a library normally looks like. RDH Architects is well-versed in institutional projects. The firm is one of the oldest in Canada, tracing its roots back to 1919. It was a powerhouse in the early- to mid-twentieth century, designing many prominent Canadian landmarks. In recent years, the firm has invested in young talent and won several Governor General’s Awards—including two in the past decade for libraries, led by architect Tyler Sharp.

How did Springdale Library acquire such an unusual shape? The triangular plan was a response to tight site conditions and the client’s desire to push the building close to busy Bramalea Road. RDHA carried considerations for site through the project—a section shows an invented topography on floor and ceiling, echoing berms and slopes in the adjacent park. The client was understandably surprised at the first design presentation—RDHA’s portfolio of libraries is full of straight lines and right angles. But they soon came on board with the playful scheme. The result is a space flooded with light and made vibrant by people, which has attracted attention and admiration from across the city. Inside, spaces connect f luidly to each other, but each program has a distinct feel based on sectional, material and acoustic differences. The detailing is exquisite: a deep roof concealing insulation and mechanical systems reads as a delicate thin line on top of glass walls. The grandest gesture is the ceiling and skylight over the active reading atrium—a curving void, sculpted from drywall and adding height to an already tall space. This effect is expressed on the outside as a mounded green roof. Another drywall sculpture curves down over the children’s collection, gently compressing that space. Merging research and practice, RDHA collaborated on a solarresponsive ceramic frit pattern with Brady Peters, an assistant professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto. The frit protects from glare as well as solar heat gain in areas with floor-to-ceiling glass. The arrangement of vertical lines is inspired by the sensation of depth in a forest, or the turning pages of a book. Parametric modelling was used to adjust the spacing and density of the pattern, with denser areas to the south and

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A custom glass frit pattern surrounds the library. The frit migitates solar heat gain, while recalling the vertical tree trunks in a forest, or the turning pages of a book.

CA Feb20.indd 17

2020-02-05 11:31 AM

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Canadian Architect February 2020  

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...

Canadian Architect February 2020  

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...

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