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Envisioning the Community Living Room

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

Last Fall, Small Arms Society collaborated with OCAD University students to create a cohesive design plan for the Community Living Room at the soon-to-be creative hub. The project was a great opportunity to engage ourselves with young minds and new, fresh talent.

We challenged a group of OCAD University students to develop working plans, furniture, and wayfinding systems for the Small Arms Inspection Building’s Community Living Room.

The students visited the Small Arms Inspection Building to develop their observations and to get an in-depth feel of the space. This way, they’d be able to conceptualize how it will be used once the initial renovation is completed.


Conducting a series of interviews with artists, teachers, engineers, architects, and other invested parties, the students accumulated more information about the space and its rich history. Program Committee Chair Heather Snell lead the project and noted that she and the students learned a lot about the “ingress and egress of the building, the sound throughout the space, and the points of interest to either highlight or understate, [in regard to] the building and its history”.

With this information, the students advanced their progress on working plans, digital renders, and physical models of the space. Three groups of four were created and assigned the task for overall planning, furniture, and storytelling & way-finding. The students embarked on their design solutions for the space, with three main considerations in mind.

The concepts that the students proposed are shown below:

Static, semi-static and dynamic space

The intention of the plan was one of fluidity. This would allow for individuals to create a space with the comfort of their own living room, yet giving the space the flexibility it needed to host its vast “eight-to-eighty” demographic.

📷​​SMLXL 📷

The Studio Pod

The Studio Pod is a portable and modular customizable storage and workspace for artists in residence. Artists can configure the pod to their needs, giving them the flexibility they need without taking up a significant amount of shared space.


The Cube

The hollow 18” cubes allow for both independent study, as well as collaborative use. "We wanted these 'chairs' to easily be moved, stacked, stored, and used for anything the space could require", said Willow, who worked on the project alongside other OCAD students. They are open yet secure, lightweight, and portable, which makes them the perfect solution for a fast-pace multidisciplinary space.

The Story Yarn

This project incorporates an eco-friendly fabric recycling program that utilizes the collaborative process of knitting squares into a large, unified quilt. This will facilitate storytelling while building a sense of community.


Story Panels

The Story panels work as visual cues to entice individuals to interact with the space. They could be seen as platforms on which both stories and subtle way-finding systems can exist.

📷​​SMXLL 📷

“The results were refreshing and energizing”, said Heather. “The students embraced the cornerstones of our vision -- to connect, collaborate, and create. The ideas they came up with were truly galvanizing and demonstrated thoroughness of thought and the planning process - from respecting the Indigenous and historical aspects to space use and environmental issues.”

We would like to thank the OCAD University students for their hard work and for bringing something new and innovative to the Small Arms Inspection Building.

We look forward to seeing the cubes in the community living room and around the space!

OCAD University Students: Witney Dunn, Ashley Proulx, Yasaman Bahremand, Tori Hamilton, Graham Nhlamba, Kaiatanoron Bush, Willow, Jessica, & Steve

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