When Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects won a government grant to build the new $36 million Surrey City Centre Library with an alarmingly short construction deadline, the designers turned to a clever time-saving solution: social media. With just 18 months to bring the design from concept to completion, the architects collected public input on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the library blog and transformed the data into what’s arguably the world’s first public building to be designed with the help of social media. Completed in 2011, Surrey’s new library isn’t just a beautiful and functional community-designed achievement, but is also certified to LEED Gold standards.
In lieu of community charrettes, Bing Thom Architects launched an online “Ideabook” that welcomed everyone to submit ideas, photographs, and texts of what they wanted the library to look like. Of the library’s Facebook fans, the largest percentage was under 25 and the second largest group was women between the ages of 35 and 44. The librarians also aided those who were digitally challenged. Requests ranged from a prayer room for the Muslim population to computer training facilities to drawing areas in the children’s section.
The architects distilled the ideas into the final people-centered library design that sports a tapered ship-like appearance and curvaceous, ultra-modern lines. “With advances in easily available electronic information, the role of libraries is changing and the book collection is no longer the central focus,” said the architects. “The building design evolved out of the need to provide a space for reading, studying, and above all, gathering as a community.” Large windows, an upward winding central atrium, and skylights bring in copious amounts of natural light, while the outward sloped walls mitigate solar gain.
Images via Bing Thom Architects
Photos by Ema Peter