Almaty Uni

Almaty Uni

WHERE: Almaty, Kazakhstan
WHEN: 2012-present

Uni AlmatyIn 2012, The Uni Project fabricated and shipped a full scale, 120-cube Uni structure with a custom cover system and 40 benches to Almaty, Kazakhstan. That Uni was used to create an outdoor reading room in prominent, outdoor public spaces in Almaty during summer and fall. The Uni season was then extended through the winter at a mall and the Almaty International Airport. To this day, Uni Almaty continues to explore locations across the city.

The Uni in Almaty is a collaboration between the US Consulate in Almaty and the Children’s Library of Almaty. The Uni’s collection of books in Russian, English and Kazakh comes from the Children’s Library’s own shelves, and from donations by the US Consulate.

Uni Almaty

How did this come about? In 2011, during our Kickstarter campaign, we were contacted by Bill Middleton, a foreign service librarian with the U.S. Department of State, who serves as Information Resource Officer for Central Asia. He was eager to try the Uni in Almaty, where public spaces are heavily used in summer after bitter-cold winters. Like us, he saw the Uni as a way to promote reading, highlight the role local libraries, and give people a place and a reason to gather around books and learning.

Local TV covers Uni in Almaty:

Blog Posts about the Uni in Almaty:

Almaty Uni at airport

Almaty Uni reading room pops up in airport

The team behind the Uni in Almaty has done it again. Unwilling to close the portable reading room during the bitter cold Kazakh winter, they deployed in a popular shopping mall and now the Almaty International Airport. This photo from a recent news article (translation below) shows the Uni deployed in tower formation, split in half. […]

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The Uni abroad in Almaty wraps season. Will return next Spring.

Today ends the remarkable, wildly successful inaugural season of the Uni in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We’re honored to have played a role in creating a roving library that spent all summer in Almaty, and congratulations to everyone involved, including the local children’s library and US Consulate. We’ve just learned that the Almaty Uni will return to […]

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Local Children’s Library and US Embassy launch a Uni in Kazakhstan

On July 5, a new Uni went into service in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We never expected the Uni Project to go so far, so fast, and we’re thrilled that our kit of cubes, benches, and covers shipped out safely, and is now a roving, outdoor reading room in Panfilov Park, a busy place in the center of […]


Uni 2.0 wheels up, headed abroad.

A new Uni is en route to Almaty, Kazakhstan via air cargo. This Uni will be used to create a roving, outdoor reading room in Almaty’s parks and plazas through a collaboration between the U.S. Embassy in Almaty and a local children’s library. Thank you Bill Middleton, Information Resource Officer for Central Asia and Pakistan at […]


Uni 2.0 new photos

Here are a few photos from the recent test deployment of Uni 2.0. (Credit: Thena Tak, HY Architecture.) Learn more about our second Uni here. Thanks again to everyone involved, including our waterfront host, Boston’s Children’s Museum.  


Uni 2.0 came out tonight

Today, our newly-fabricated, second Uni was tested in public space. It’s ready to go, and we’ll be sending this Uni abroad next week. Thank you to Boston Children’s Museum for hosting us. Thanks to Bill Bancroft, Diana Lempel, and everyone at Howeler + Yoon Architecture for your hard work. We’re all excited to see how far this Uni […]


See Uni 2.0 in Boston tomorrow

Tomorrow, Boston will get an advance look at a newly fabricated, second Uni structure which will soon be deployed in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This second-ever Uni will be used in parks and plazas around Almaty to create a roving, outdoor reading room. The Almaty project is funded by the US State Department. Join us on the […]


We're getting a "new" name... Street Lab.

The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a nonprofit launched in 2006 in Boston, where we created community-oriented programs for public space. In 2011, we migrated Street Lab to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The Uni began as a single, portable reading room and has since grown into a city-wide initiative offering more than 600 days of pop-up programming in 150+ public spaces across the city. In 2019, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all this work together going forward, with much more to come.
For now, details about our programs are available here on the Uni Project web site. Soon, that content will move to Thanks for sticking with us!