town near Toronto, Canada, is home to a new community-supported lending library with a compelling design. Newmarket's Story Pod is an unstaffed kiosk that's opened up like a book during the day to allow visitors to borrow and donate books and sit on the benches inside to read.

Funded by HollisWealth and designed by Atelier Kastelic Buffey (AKB), the pod is aimed at being aesthetically pleasing, functional, ecologically sound, economical and easy to build for a construction team of volunteers. The exterior of the 8 x 8 x 10-ft (2.4 x 2.4 x 3-m) unit is made of marine grade MDF with wooden slats, while the interior is made of marine-grade okoume plywood with solid edging and clear sealed with a satin finish.

Located in a newly completed civic square, the pod has a simple black form that is aimed at drawing the attention of passers-by. Each day, it is opened up and visitors can peruse the selection of books on the shelves inside. People are free to take books away and return them at a later date or to simply read in and around the pod.

AKB's Kelly Buffey tells Gizmag that the firm was excited by the chance to take on a community-focused, pro bono project for a cause such as literacy. In addition, she says it was gratifying to see what could be achieved even within a tight budget and a small footprint.

"By making the walls of the pavilion operable, we were able to expand the usable internal area outward beyond the defined boundaries, engaging the surrounding landscape plaza and inviting the publicinward," explains Buffey. "Likewise, the vertical batons are made from economical dimension lumber, but using different rhythms and spacing creates visual interest."

The design of the pod is such that the form appears more solid and enclosed from certain angles, while more open and revealing from others. At night, it is illuminated with LED lights that are powered by concealed solar panels and provides an ambient backdrop for community events.

Among the events held at the lending library toward the end of last northern summer, were popular weekly story sessions. In the winter, however, the pod is to be stored off-site, with specially-designed channels at its base to accommodate a standard forklift for transportation.

The Story Pod is maintained by the Town of Newmarket and Newmarket Public Library helps to maintain the books. "The selection is largely determined by what visitors take and leave," says Buffey. "This community spirit has been instrumental to maintaining the pod. Many new books are donated all the time."

The design process for the Story Pod began in March this year and it was installed in early August. The video below tells the story of the Story Pod.

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