Springdale Library by RDH Architects

A hill-like green roof with a skylight helps to blend this public library by Toronto architecture firm RDHA into its grassy surrounds.

Springdale Public Library and the surrounding Komagata Maru Park are located in Brampton, Canada, a suburb outside of Toronto.

The library comprises three volumes around a central patio, featuring aluminium and glazed walls with a ceramic frit pattern reminiscent of book pages. The green mound emerges to form a domed ceiling over the library inside.

RDH Architects Inc (RDHA) oriented the triangular building to suit the site’s inclined topography and maximise its views of the ravine at its rear.

The roof feature also picks up on the grassy patches interspersed with pools and benches that form part of the landscaping around the library.

A series of reflective steel columns attach to an overhanging roof to cover a small patio and picnic area that overlooks the reflecting pools situated on the west face of the building.

Playground equipment, a shading pavilion and an interactive sculpture that spells the word “imagine” are situated on the park property behind the library.

Measuring 20,000-square-foot (1,858-square-metres), the building also houses a children’s library, several group meeting rooms and lounges and a Makerspace lab.

RDHA designed it to meet a high LEED certification, which rates buildings according to its green credentials. To achieve this, the Canadian firm implemented a number of more sustainable strategies, including the green roof that bolsters insulation and solar resistant windows.

“Expressing inclusivity, innovation, dedication to learning, collaboration, curiosity, courage and accountability the new building reflects the vision of the institution,” RDHA said.

“Seamlessly integrating universal design principles, and targeting a LEED Gold rating, the building demonstrates the highest levels of achievement in both dignity and sustainable design.”

Other details include the pattern of the floor-to-ceiling windows – attached to the aluminium curtain wall – that helps to reduce solar heat gain and glare.

Inside, the studio covered the domed ceiling over the reading room with drywall to help tone down the noise.

The circular skylight floods natural light into the white interiors, while globular pendant lights hang from its centre to provide additional illumination.

Another, smaller light is installed on the ceiling in the quiet reading area. An inverted skylight also brightens the children’s reading area, which is carpeted with a mossy green surface that nods to the feature roof.

The decor includes colourful plastic stools that match armchairs and tables in the reading rooms and lounges located in other parts of the library.

Other features of the design are digital screens in the lobby that display nature scenes. A panel of glass walls that runs alongside the rows of white bookshelves to conceal the classrooms, and technology and audio recording labs, that patrons are free to use.

RDHA, which stands for Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects, was founded in 1919. It has completed a number of libraries in Canada including another building that features a sloping green roof and the renovation of a post office into “Canada’s first bookless library”.

Photography is by Nic Lehoux.

Project credits:

Architecture and interiors: RDH Architects Inc
Design principal: Tyler Sharp
Managing principal: Bob Goyeche
Project manager: Sanjoy Pal
Staff: Shelley Vanderwal, Carlos Tavares, Juan Caballero, Soo-Jin Rim, Gladys Cheung, Lisa Sato, Simon Routh, Anton Freundorfer
Structural engineer: WSP Canada, Andrew Dionne
Mechanical engineer: Jain Sustainability Consultants, Ezzat Mitri & Mohammed Khan
Electrical engineer: Jain Sustainability Consultants, Raed Hindi
LEED consultant: Jain Sustainability Consultants, Brad Hollebrandse
Civil engineer: Valdor Engineering, David Giugovaz
Landscape architect: NAK Design Strategies, Robert Ng
Water features consultant: Resicom, Rob Brogee

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