brief

  • Design challenge to suggest ways to add to a house or make a self-contained outbuilding or cabin that engages the daily practices of Inuit in Nunavik using only the materials at hand.

  • Designs should emerge from a hacker mindset: it should be simple, frugal, and inclusive.

  w/ Andrej Iwanski

Type_ Competition

  Host_Canadian Centre for Architecture

   Year_2016

Post-Colonial Dreams

            Indigenous communities, for many millennia, have lived their lives in harmony with the land, environment and climate. Using natural living beings and materials in innovative and highly technological ways not out of desire, but out of necessity. Objects of nature were used in their entirety, no wasted elements. 

In today's society, in the aftermaths of colonialism and transition to sedentary lifestyles contained to treaty lands, this practice of innovative living and building prevails, now using the refuse of modern products, shipping, and technology. 

            The design brief asks young 'southern' designers to imagine remote Indigenous architectures of utility and dwelling for these communities out of the leftover stuff: the waste leftovers, trash, or condemned elements of structures using a hacker mindset. This proposal questions the underlying intentions of this call to designers; don't indigenous people deserve to live their traditional lives in more than designed trash? Shouldn't contemporary architecture aim to promote traditional values and culture opposed to dwelling within a foreign culture's waste? 

Image from design brief. Traditional style dwellings.

Image from design brief. Contemporary style dwellings.

PART ONE: The post-colonial machine is constructed with community detritus of the remote northern Quebec landscape. Nomadic by design, it roams from community to community picking up debris, reconstructing it, and re-creating new architecture from the collected components. By re-building from the discarded and pre-existing materials strewn about, the machine completes the original purpose of the homes and buildings in their respective communities.

PART TWO: In it's continual advancements through time, the machine has begun to ravage the existing aboriginal communities. Tearing down former, yet unfamiliar, forms of shelter, the native communities are left with remnants of alien buildings from an alien culture. The collective powers of cultural myths, legends, and traditional ways of life fight back against the advancing machine to take back their solemn land.