A steel and glass addition to RDHA’s bookless library


Sanjay Chauhan, Tom Arban Photography,

Cambridge, Canada,

Innovation center, Libraries, Media Library, Ristrutturazione,

Stone, Metal, Glass,

A bookless library created out of the merger of a nineteenth-century building with a contemporary construction.

A steel and glass addition to RDHA’s bookless library
The Idea Exchange Old Post Office Library is the result of merger and renovation of an old building constructed at the end of the nineteenth century and a new expansion built by RDHA Architects out of glass and steel.
The town of Cambridge, Ontario, in Canada, has redesigned its entire library system, calling it the Idea Exchange, renovating a series of historic buildings to offer the city all the services required for its cultural development.
The town’s old post office was abandoned and decaying, and required renovation to make it into a place usable by the community. The desire to create a multimedia space for the community, jokingly referred to as a “bookless library”, also including a makerspace, convinced the city authorities to invest in the project.
The old limestone and brick building has been merged with a contemporary construction of glass and steel whose volumes stretch out over the Grand River. Inside the complex are multimedia spaces for children, teenagers and adults; on the top floor are digital devices freely available to the association operating the centre.
The overall impression is that the historic building has been surrounded by a second construction of glass, encasing ceramic microelements that filter the sunlight to limit exposure to the sun’s rays. The glass building is in turn supported by a steel structure winding elegantly around the old building, which seems to tower above it with its clock tower.
In conclusion, the power of RDHA’s project lies in its ability to explore and make visible the integration of the two buildings, even in structural terms, with only minimal connections, ensuring maximum respect for the architecture of the past and of the present.

Fabrizio Orsini

Official project name: Idea Exchange Old Post Office
Location: Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Client: City of Cambridge & Idea Exchange
Date of Completion:
Area: 18,686 sf (1,736 sm)
Construction Budget: $11,130,000
October 2018

Photography Credit:
Tom Arban - all except the following
RDHA - Sanjay Chauhan images: 01 & 04

Architecture and Interiors: RDH Architects Inc.

Team Members:
Principal and Design Director: Tyler Sharp
Principal: Bob Goyeche
Project Managers: Juan Cabellero & Ivan Ilic
Staff: Soo-Jin Rim, Gladys Cheung, Andrew Cranford

Key Consultants:
Heritage Consultant: Stevens Burgess Architects, Kelly Gilbride
Structural Engineering: WSP, Andrew Dionne
Mechanical/Electrical Engineering: Jain & Associates Ltd.
Landscape Architects: NAK Design Strategies, Robert Ng
Civil: Valdor Engineering Inc., David Guigovaz
Cost Consultant: AW Hooker Associates Ltd.
Acoustics Consultant: Aercoustics Engineering Ltd.
Contractor: Collaborative Structures Ltd., Drew Fletcher

0 and 2 Sajay Chauhan
Others Tom Arban