Silence in the Library

xsite architecture, Northumberland, 2018


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The outcome of a funding application to tour libraries across the country.

xsite architecture is an architectural practice based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Over the past 18 years we have always sought to engage with project proposals that interface architecture with other creative and cultural disciplines, art, photography and graphic design in particular.

The pod project for Northumberland Libraries was the outcome of a successful application to the Arts Council for funding to support a project that would tour libraries across the county.

The ‘Silence in the Library’ project was to reach out to new library users, and offer a dedicated listening space in which they can access audio books – showcasing part of the libraries' growing digital offer.

The pod, which tours eight libraries across Northumberland, acts as a storytime listening pod for younger children, and equally a quiet space for adults -– a small comfortable space to transport yourself away from the bustle of a modern library environment.

The pod was to be demountable so that it could be taken apart and transported between libraries, form an acoustic barrier so inside the pod was quiet, and offer a range of listening options to the users within the pod – all while being approachable and fun, to appeal in particular to the younger library users.

We worked with a small community workshop in Gateshead deliver the pod, and were actively engaged throughout the build process.

Currently at its fourth stop, feedback from the project has shown it to be a great success with users young and old(er) and with the county's Sensory Support Service who work with young children and adults with hearing, vision, and multi-sensory impairments.

Feedback has been that the pod provides a comfortable environment that allows for focus and enjoyment in what can be a noisy environment.


  • Begun: Sep 2018
  • Completed: Oct 2018
  • Floor area: 2m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Education
  • Total cost: £12,000
  • Funding: Arts Council
  • Tender date: Aug 2018
  • Procurement: Informal agreement for design and construction
  • Address: Northumberland Libraries, Northumberland, United Kingdom

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