Bridgenorth Library and Community Hall

Selwyn, Ontario

Residential wood frame construction techniques enable a cost effective and sustainable civic building that responds to its forested setting.


For the Bridgenorth Library and Community Hall we wanted to make a “big move” on a limited budget, so we bypassed conventional materials, and instead implemented a standard residential wood frame system of exposed trusses. Also eliminating the drywall that normally hides the structure, we designed a sustainable and sculptural building that could be constructed at low cost.

Perched on a hill overlooking the main street, the building’s narrow windows, vertical siding and a tall chimney abstractly evoke a grove of slender trees. An outdoor plaza hosts social events with a covered walkway to protect users from the rain and a long balcony is accessible from both the library and the multi-purpose community hall so that, on a beautiful day, library users can read a book outside, and wedding or meeting guests can spill outdoors.

Crisp white walls and ceilings create a light, airy atmosphere, set off by a darkly stained plywood “liner” that brings the soaring scale of the 18-foot-high ceiling rooms back to human proportions. Under a low overhang, a stone fireplace surrounded by comfy sofas feels like an intimate cottage living room, and light filters through the lacey ribbons of stick wood in the library’s exposed truss ceiling as though it were dispersing through the nearby forest canopy. Inspired by aerial views of the surrounding farms, we laid linoleum and carpet flooring laid in stripes, and views of Chemong Lake and the surrounding landscape can be enjoyed through the many operable windows.

As a whole, Bridgenorth Library and Community Hall is a modest building that speaks volumes about the importance of design that responds to its unique place. Logical, accessible, and inspiring, Bridgenorth does what every good civic building should: it stirs the mind and promotes quality of life.


2009 Ontario WoodWORKS! Green Building Wood Design Award


Canadian Architect – (July 2010) Cottage Life