Highlands Branch Library

A democratic idea takes shape

As a distinctive landmark in the community, the new library stimulates further development along 118th Avenue. From whichever direction the building is approached, whether by foot, bicycle, bus or car, visitors will be able to look into the library space. The library pavilion faces the surroundings in all directions. The building’s transparency and openness contribute to its social hub function, which is essential for a modern library.

The Highlands Branch Library in Edmonton is a library that dates back to 1962 when it opened in part of a regular store. It got its own address in 1963 when it moved into a cottage on 118th Avenue, where it earned the nickname "Little House Library." Since then, the city's population grew significantly, necessitating the need for a larger building.

The new design of the Highlands Branch Library draws inspiration from the local architectural style of low houses and consists of a composition of pointed roofs and large windows in a single volume of metal. The library stands as an open pavilion in the middle of a garden, signaling the democratic idea that the building is open to everyone. It is a free public space in a cozy neighbourhood.

Highlands Branch Library Canada Exterior Front View Library Culture
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
1,500 m²
Edmonton Public Library, City of Edmonton
Collaborative Architect:
Marshall Tittemore Architects
Landscape Architects:
Read Jones Christoffersen, Smith + Andersen, Hemisphere Engineering, ISL Engineering Ltd
LEED Silver certification

The Highlands Branch Library in Edmonton, Alberta, provides the Highlands’ community with a distinctive landmark which underlines a new, open, and accessible creative centre. The library is designed as a composition of pitched roofs, with a modern expression implementing large windows and a metallic façade. The building sits like an open pavilion in a garden and expresses that it is open to all; a free public space, a place to read, a place to learn, a place to meet, a place to be.

The library has been serving the communities in northeast Edmonton, Highlands, Montrose, and Bellevue since 1962. The new building, which replaces the existing branch library, responds in its design to the low-rise buildings in the neighbourhood.

Highlands Branch Library Canada Neighbourhood Library Culture
Highlands Branch Library Canada Exterior Day View Library Culture

The new library is organised as one large space spread into three wings – focusing on children, teenagers, and adult collections. Librarians are located in the centre to be easily available and visible to all library visitors.

Highlands Branch Library Canada Interior Book Shelves Distribution Library Culture
Highlands Branch Library Canada Sketch Library Culture