New Kentville library: 'to have as little impact as possible, that’s the smart way'

Published on January 14, 2017

Canning area architect Lisa Tondino points out the nearly 40 foot ramp leading to the community space in the Kentville library branch, which is being redeveloped.

©Wendy Elliott

KENTVILLE NS – “Our current timeline is hopeful for May," says Angela Reynolds of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library.

At the new Kentville branch, she says, there's lots of work to be done still and making the children's space amazing (with prize funds) is going to take some time.”

Reynolds has her fingers crossed. Lisa Tondino of Houdini Design Architects calls the project a really nice job where multiple individuals are investing pride in the final look of the new library.

Tondino has found the owners of the old United church, Parsons Investments, “great to work with.” The Friends of the Kentville Library, town staff and library staff she’s found turned “into a team, working together to make choices.”

She says she realized early on that the 1914 stone building was “an incredible asset with enough history to deserve adaptive reuse. Her input is minimalist in order to respect the heritage of the place.”

The Canning-area architect is pleased with the way the adult/community area, where the altar was, has worked out with an almost 40-foot ramp giving it easy access.

“We were very excited to have solved that problem,” Tondino noted during a tour. “Our aim is to do as little damage to the building as possible.”

Best of all the new additions have had little impact on the existing interior design features. The area will have access to a washroom and a sink for use as an art space that can be used after hours.

According to Tondino, her job has been what she calls incision design.

“To have as little impact as possible, that’s the smart way,” she says looking around the wide open area. “The idea is to modernize it so the community can enjoy the space.”

When the wooden floor is resanded, the stacks of shelves will go in the north end of the building, where the reading area will go. Flexible furniture is planned and Tondino says youth were consulted about the creation of the spaces.

Some day in the future, she notes, a café or a bike shelter might be nice additions.

In mid-November the Kentville branch was announced as the winner of this year’s This Place Matters $40,000 competition. Close to $60,000 in crowd funding was also raised.


This artist's rendering shows what the Nova Scotia team's ice hut will look like later this month.



Ice hut competition



Tondino’s firm was chosen back in November as one of three winners in the Winnipeg Warming Huts - Architecture Competition.


Tondino’s team includes Alexandra Bolen, Mathew Rodrigues along with artist Drew Klassen.


World-renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor is also creating a warming hut to be featured this winter along Winnipeg's river trail.


"This year we saw close to 100 entries from all across the globe, including China, Panama, Sweden and Australia," said Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks Renewal Corporation.


"The competition attracted fantastic designs, and narrowing it down to the top three was difficult for the jury," he said.


The Nova Scotia team calls their submission Ice Lantern. It is composed of two main parts: a lantern hovers above the snow while an igloo snow mound provides a gathering place with wooden bench seats. Open ventilation at the top of the lantern invites users to gaze up to the stars and clouds.


Nearing the end of January, according to a release, competition winners travel to Winnipeg to begin construction on their warming hut. The weeklong building blitz gives designers a chance to watch their vision come to life while allowing the public to watch them at work. The warming huts are then brought out to the Red River Mutual Trail for visitors to skate to, interact with, and enjoy. The huts will remain out until the end of the skating season.


The competition, which is endorsed by the Manitoba Association of Architects, started in 2009 and all submissions were reviewed by a blind jury.


Last fall Tondino received an honorable mention in the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Design Awards in Architecture for her furniture design of a table and workstation.