BUILDING TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE INUIT ARCHITECTURE
We are designing a pilot cultural workshop to trial new green energy materials and technologies for a larger facility called the Inuinnait Knowledge Centre. The initial building is an approximately 1000 sq ft. modular building that meshes Inuit architecture with modern energy efficiency measures and technologies. It is informed by the experiences of community members within their own homes, and is shaped by visions of how future buildings can further accommodate their cultural needs.
The creation of a more manageable pilot structure allows us to test and monitor selected building materials, build partnerships and supply chains, and begin fostering the local capacity required to build, manage and operate our future facility. By prioritizing openness of project data and results, this research program will also allow us to address significant knowledge gaps in northern green and renewable architecture by creating, compiling and sharing detailed information regarding materials and technology performance, community knowledge and priorities, and live data from the ongoing monitoring of the pilot structure.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2021, we engaged residents of Cambridge Bay through meetings, workshops, design charrettes and dozens of interviews with local industry experts in the construction and energy sector, home and cabin owners, Elders and knowledge keepers, traditional architecture experts and the municipal government. This wide survey of local knowledge and experience allowed us to build a comprehensive database to outline infrastructure recommendations for the new building.
With the Canadian Arctic being highly prone to climate risk, we see our building project as an opportunity to devise innovative new solutions to community adaptation around these issues.
To address those, we are initiating a series of geotechnical studies of the site to assess the extent of these concerns and adjust the foundation design of our new building to adapt to them. A thorough geotechnical study of the land will allow us to 1) assess the suitability of the site, 2) identify where additional studies are warranted, 3) design building foundations appropriate to current and future site conditions, and 4) implement adequate mitigation measures (such as thermosyphons, landscaping, operation and maintenance practices) if necessary.
Our project seeks to understand the climate change risks and impacts associated with the design, construction and operation of our building. We have conducted dozens of interviews with local homeowners, builders, and community members on the impacts that climate change is having on local buildings over time. We've reflected on seasonal land patterns, including prevailing winds, snow accumulation, drainage flow, and water accumulation during spring melt. Information gathered from this research, and combined with available climate data and background research on studies conducted on similar infrastructure across the Arctic - has formed the basis our first high level Climate Risk Assessment.
INUINNAIT KNOWLEDGE CENTRE
Since 2016, PI/KHS has been laying the foundation to develop a new centre dedicated to the documentation, revitalization and mobilization of Inuiunnait knowledge. This centre will forefront the collective identity of Inuinnait, a regional group of Inuit located primarily in the communities of Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Gjoa Haven and Ulukhaktok. It will entail the creation of facilities, digital resources and human networks specifically designed to provide Inuinnait with the resources and common focus required to ensure the survival of their unique culture, heritage and language.
Through experience, training, and partnerships created over the course of our phase 1 pilot program, we will make sure that the construction design, and process of this new facility is genuinely anchored in our community.