Modern and traditional, high- and low-tech: contrasting design features are united in one of Canada’s first facilities dedicated to providing a uniquely Indigenous perspective to post-secondary students. The building’s design reflects the cultural characteristics of the Indigenous Peoples of the region while providing up-to-date learning spaces, classrooms, faculty offices, social spaces, labs, a bookstore, a cafeteria, and a library.
While state of the art in its function, the facility’s design is faithful to Indigenous building traditions and includes the substantial use of wood and natural materials. To reflect the pit houses that are the most common traditional Indigenous structures in the Southern Interior region of B.C., the building is a combination of wood and concrete with a structural glue-laminated timber column system. The facility’s primary structure is Douglas-fir columns, designed and cut using computer numerical control technology.
The exterior is clad in a yellow cedar rainscreen wall. Windows are shaded with sliding cedar louvres to mitigate solar gain.
A glazed ventilation atrium with operable windows, inspired by the extended tipi used in the historic past by the Lower Nicola People, adds to the design motif, while serving as a functional element of its sustainable design.