Oh this one’s awesome… (and kinda close to my hometown!) An over 125 year old romanesque post office brought to new purpose to become a ‘bookless’ library, filled with creative labs and maker spaces and more. And it’s not just the stately post office building, it’s a new wrap-around glass pavilion that reaches out to engage the adjacent canal and make the whole shebang a part of the community space.
So, yeah, that gallery that hangs out over the river pretty much sells the whole thing. I mean, the original (and restored) post office is also lovely, with its arched windows, half turrets, towers, steep gable roof, and the brick and stone. All of that is enhanced with the new glass and steel surround that cantilevers not just once, but twice, hovering first over the water, then above over a patio/deck. And the undersides of which hasn’t been neglected, with polished aluminum and integrated lighting that speaks towards a future river walk. It’s dynamic and playful and though a very different language than the original building that contrast enhances each other, even more so when they are reflected off the water whether by day or, glowing like a lantern, at night.
Lots of light, lots of great views to the river and city beyond, and more interplay between the crisp new and the rugged old are what awaits within. These two languages combine in a culmination in the third floor maker space, inhabiting the cathedral-like space under the old high-pitched roof amongst the old support frames.
For an added bonus, there’s the glass ceiling that looks up into the old clock tower, putting the mechanisms on display!
Very cool project, another example of taking something already existing and, through re-use and a clever set of additions, turning it into something even greater. Plus public maker spaces/etc are a great addition to a community (I loved the one at the new library in Helsinki). And if you, like me, still love traditional book-filled libraries, there’s one right across the river.
Yes, I’ve been watching that one with interest since I was living in the same region for so long! The dialog around it is predictable– there are those who just don’t like the modernness, or the spending of money, or whatever. Likely the same people who railed at having a nice new pedestrian bridge across the river nearby.
Cambridge has the bones of a truly beautiful river city, but its downtown has had the same kind of economic depression of a lot of small Ontario cities, and it’s only slowly starting to lift its way out. In the same way that Kitchener blossomed from investment and increased focus on the core, Cambridge stands to as well… and it has the same reactionary opponents who think any money to improve a place is wasted.
Cool that you were able to watch it progress! And unfortunate that there was such resistance… one of the things I really appreciated in the Nordic countries was (at least as I perceived it as a visitor) that there was an understanding that well-appointed civic and public spaces were important for good living. Ear tufts crossed that idea wins out for Cambridge. (Also, huh! Looking at a satellite view, apparently the Waterloo Architecture Campus is right across the river from the Idea Exchange, which is pretty amazing and a very cool location… )
Fun bit of local trivia: Cambridge, Ontario features in more than its share of television series. Most notably, a lot of A Handmaid’s Tale is filmed here. The concrete and stone embankments and lower walkways along the river near this post office show up in the first few episodes in particular.