Le James Bookstore: A Novel Approach To Buying Books

With a staircase that doubles as a spontaneous meeting point, the Le James Bookstore has been designed as a place to collaborate and connect.

Devised to be a catalyst between McGill University and the city of Montreal comes the new Le James Bookstore. Located outside the university’s formal campus, the store is set across two floors and has become a place where students can exchange conversation and share ideas.

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The project was led by KANVA, a collective of dynamic architects who have designed everything from large-scale public art installations to corporate spaces in Montreal and beyond.

Its focus comes with a large central staircase, complete with oversized steps and inspired by the traditional exterior stairs of the neighbouring university buildings. The staircase also includes a number of charging stations, offering both a technical addition to the centrepiece and an opportunity for an unconventional work environment. Paired with the expansive natural light that spills into the space, the result is as welcoming to those on the outside as it is comforting to those who are inside.

Due to its durability and environmental aspects, the main material of the bookstore is bamboo, and this played an important part in bringing the project to life. “The use of bamboo, the transparency of railings that highlight the original concrete structure and the platforms encourage connections to make the grand staircase a meeting place conducive of trade,” reads a statement from KANVA.

Alongside bamboo, industrial details were consciously added throughout by unveiling concrete, adding vintage lamps and ensuring all electromechanical services were exposed. Using a subtle, neutral colour palette was another way the industrial design was heightened, giving extra attention to the products on sale.

Instead of altering the bookstore’s outside entrance, the design team also decided to add an extra bamboo tier in front, to entice the attention of passersby and move it from a student-centric space to a semi-public domain.

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Cece M. Scott

Cece M. Scott