Six Nations Public Library and Archive Repository
Architectural Building Description
The Six Nations Public Library and Archival Repository is the largest First Nations library in Ontario and the oldest First Nations collection, as well as the only Fist Nations library in Ontario accredited by the OPLA. The SNPLA has indicated in their Strategic Plan that they see the library as ‘entertaining, educating and empowering’ their users and their community, that the new library facility will be a community hub for Six Nations Community members and offer ‘the best library system within the territory’ and become a centre for ‘all things Six Nations.’
The SNPLA Committee has worked diligently towards these goals and the conceptual drivers of the proposed building are designed to represent these goals in a visual and physical language. The three main drivers proposed for this concept include;
- community and home,
- secondly, reflection on and respect for the community’s rich history,
- and thirdly, growth and development.
Community and Home
As the future home of the SNPL, the Archives of the Six Nations community and several departments within the Six Nations Administration (Lands and Resources, Lands and Membership, Public Records), this new building naturally represents significant aspects of the Six Nations community life. Representation of this significance is shown in the design by utilizing imagery of historic architecture, including the representation of the longhouse within the curving roof structures. Similarly, the plan of the project is set up with one main public entry where a visitor or staff member can immediately understand the layout of the building due to a lobby area which has three vistas off into three main areas of the project. The visitor can immediately locate themselves in the project and also participate in several community- representing aspects of the building, including;
- A small café, where one can have a warm drink or sandwich and participate in social exchange,
- View displays of community history, artwork or other two or three dimensional representations of the community,
- Or sit, have a calming moment, read, access the drop-in computers, view or walk into the library garden, or contemplate the displays or the overall building.
- The overall colour, material and pattern palette of the building has been chosen to reflect ideas of warmth and comfort, and therefore community and home.
History of the Community
The second aspect of the conceptual design is the reflection on and respect for the community’s rich history. Several physical aspects of the design have been selected to specifically refer to images from the community’s history, including;
- The semi-circular curves of the upper roofing and the entry canopies directly refer tothe early architecture of the Iroquois Peoples, the longhouse form.
- Similar curving forms are used in the main vista and entry from the lobby to the exterior garden. These forms do not replicate the structure of the longhouse but allude to its form through abstraction, referring both to present and past. These structures are built with warm, clear finished woods, adding to the warm, community atmosphere within the library while providing a ‘wayfinding’tool for patrons.
- Wood or wood-like materials are used in many locations throughout the project, including the trellises, cabinetwork, seating, door panels, washroom vanities, and wall panels.
- The exterior cladding of the project is done in a series of insulated metal panels, some translucent, some opaque with a printed, wood like pattern. These panels are chosen to refer to the skins and barks used for cladding of traditional architecture. The metal panels are attached in a horizontal, running bond pattern to allude to this idea.
The third component of the project’s concept is the idea of growth and garden. As a library with a vision to support the ‘education and empowerment’ of the community, ideas of growth are implicit. This idea of personal and community growth is physically and visually demonstrated throughout the building, as follows;
- The creation of the reading garden at the south face of the library. A place where the community can socialize, organize or simply read quietly as individuals or in small groups
- The use of trellis imagery in the library as well at the front and rear entries of the building.
- The use of translucent divider panels within the library and in the reception areas. These panels will be lightly imbedded with leaves to reinforce the image of nature.
- The considerable use of wood or wood-like materials throughout.
- The use of linoleum in an abstracted leaf pattern.
The high sustainability choices proposed throughout the project