Town of Stony Plain Library: Building a community through stories and history
Town of Stony Plain
About 25 kilometres west of Edmonton lies the town of Stony Plain. Known for its rich western history, summer festivals, and some of the most beautiful and plentiful mural art in the province, the town has grown to a population of 18,000 people.
The town’s small library was running out of space, and staff were no longer able to create sufficient community programming to meet growing demand. They needed more room. The town purchased the main floor of a seven-storey mixed-use senior living project on Main Street. With a unique opportunity to integrate the multi-generational facility above, the new library had found a home.
Our education & research team were selected through a competitive RFP process as the lead designers for the project. It was an honour to help Stony Plain residents discover the creative freedom an intuitively designed library can provide.
The library staff started visioning the new library’s possibilities well before we were chosen to design. They dreamed of creative cultural programs and well-rounded spaces for children, seniors, technology, and performance. Libraries are no longer the quiet spaces they were in days gone by, and this was an opportunity to modernize this new space with interactive elements.
Our challenge was to create a space centered around the library’s four core values: community presence, creative catalyst, flexible environment, and culture centre. We worked with multiple stakeholders to design a library that functioned as a flexible, versatile, and adaptive community hub that acknowledges the rich history and heritage of the Treaty 6 Indigenous communities.
Whether you’re 13 or 93, the Stony Plain library has spaces where all can feel comfortable being adjacent to each other, while not being disruptive, but engaging in conversation, so each could educate and learn from each other through their stories”.
Approaching this project from a place of humble inquiry and grass roots, we incorporated a sense of empathy for the town’s specific needs, culture, and history. We visited the town to take photographs to understand the sense of space and light.
We worked closely with the librarian and library staff to facilitate workshops with a diverse group of users, volunteers, seniors and students to create a strategy. We toured other libraries to draw inspiration from surrounding municipalities.
Design drivers developed in the sessions include safety, gathering space, intuition, coziness, diversity and inclusion and a comfortable home away from home. Library staff requested low curvilinear bookshelves to keep sight lines open, and introduced us to local furniture vendors. Through collaboration, we created storyboards and visuals with customized tailored solutions.
We designed a diverse mix of quiet areas for focused reading with open collaborative spaces conducive to information sharing around the library. The new space incorporates flexibility in design supported by modular furniture, which will allow the library to evolve, grow, and adapt to the changing market. Natural light, attractive colours, and warm textures flow through the space.
Lights fixtures are shaped like open books, and provide an acoustic treatment to the space, while panels on the upper wall pay homage to Stony Plain’s buildings on Main Street that accent the community. While the outside branding and signage incorporates subtle literary art to draw in users.
A low ceiling area due to underground parkade access is designed as a cozy nook for children, with large steps and seating to curl up and learn. A wooden train from the old library is one of the key centerpieces of the new space and serves as a reminder of the facility’s history.
Cultural heritage is celebrated in new and unique ways, including the display of art and Traditional Medicine Wheels of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Alexander Cree, Enoch Cree, and Paul First Nation at the library’s entrance.
The library now serves as a key gathering place for the people of Stony Plain, while reinforcing the town’s Main Street and preserving cultural history. Users hold events, learn, gather, and reinforce relationships in the new space. There is space for a future mural and café within the overall building development on the main floor.
To celebrate the gratitude and respect for the land and culture of Treaty 6, Elders performed a blessing at the opening of the library. The library is actively committed to expanding their Indigenous programming.
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