Meaford Public Library

Meaford, Ontario

A former supermarket at the gateway to Meaford’s downtown, provides the basis for a light-filled library and parkette that are helping to renew both the community and its sense of place.

 

The Municipality of Meaford desired a library that would meet the needs of its broadening and diversifying rural community. We conducted a feasibility study and determined that while the existing library could not be cost-effectively renovated to meet the municipality’s objectives, a recently shuttered grocery store could do so and more. At the gateway to the town, the site would give the library greater visibility, and a portion of its parking lot could be transformed into a new parkette adjacent to Bighead River, enabling the library programming to spill outdoors, and encouraging the public to reconnect with the site’s special surroundings. 

We restored the building envelope, reclad it with a charcoal grey fibre cement board that complements the red brick surroundings, and we cut large windows to create strong visual connections between the exterior and interior.

Inside, a central path creates a clear, inviting course between two key entrances. The main desk, positioned at the midway point, places staff at the centre of the plan with close connection to all areas. To create distinct and engaging zones within the former grocery’s boxy footprint, we manipulated the ceiling plane to angle up towards the main street window, and lower over areas such as the children’s zone. This strategy keeps the floor plan open and flexible to accommodate multiple uses, and the changes that will inevitably occur over time. 

The new public library provides much more than books and music. Expanding on the offerings of its predecessor, it includes a greater number of computer stations as well as a suite of new technology-enabled spaces such as meeting rooms, a “digital creative zone” with a green screen and podcasting equipment, and a large multi-purpose space that can be booked during and outside library hours. The parkette includes apple trees, underscoring the dominant local agriculture of the area, and a firepit and café tables for various types of outdoor gatherings. 

Meaford Public Library demonstrates that a radical repurposing of an existing building can create a functional and sustainable community hub that bolsters the municipality’s pride of place.

“… the most sustainable building is the one you don’t demolish”

 

– Simon Lewsen, Azure

Media

ArchDaily – (June 2024) Meaford Public Library
Azure – (March 2023) The New Era of Circular Architecture