The Kitsumkalum are one of the 14 bands that make up the Tsimshian First Nation that inhabit the northwest coast of British Columbia. Kitsumkalum, meaning ‘water running over rocks’ was the name given to both the people and the river — a tributary of the Skeena — along which their traditional territory lies. This facility is designed to meet the contemporary healthcare needs of the Kitsumkalum band. Historically, the Kitsumkalum were sea-faring people who thrived on plentiful salmon, seals, and other seafood. This abundant food source enabled them to live in permanent settlements of large longhouses and to develop an architectural language rich in symbolism. Their longhouses and all of the goods of their daily lives were made of western red cedar, with both the wood and the bark being used.
This project demonstrates how wood construction and detailing can create a strong architectural expression symbolic of First Nations’ culture, using only standard materials and components. The building structure is erected on concrete foundations and a slab-ongrade floor. The perimeter foundation walls rise 0.6 metres above the finished floor to provide an exterior surface that will permanently endure the frequent accumulation of snow during the winter. The wood structure is a combination of standard 2x6 and post and beam framing.
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