FSC and FNI develop new cultural learning model for the Inuit of Canada
Passions for the land and for life-long learning are fundamental elements in a sustainable world. These two streams of thinking and being have always been a part of the Inuit way of life, and they form the DNA flow of the Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural Learning Center. Piqqusilirivvik is a unique facility that heralds a new direction for education; one that embodies cultural values and teaching techniques, and promotes cultural preservation, enhancement, and excellence for the Inuit people.
Located outside of the remote community of Clyde River in Canada’s newest and Inuit led territory of Nunavut, the site for this project is subject to extreme cold, snow, and wind events with week-long blizzards not uncommon. The formal parti is the result of this environment and the intrinsic knowledge Inuit have of it; the need to connect land and people. It's undulating roofline reflects the wind’s effect on the snow and alludes to how the Inuit use the snow for navigating the land, while scouring aerodynamics on the foundations and clerestories prevent building related permafrost warming and ensure that natural light is abundant.
Piqqusilirivvik is imbued with meaning—a modern environment that is designed to foster learning about traditional Inuit culture. It is also devoted to nurturing mastery of the many skills that allow us to live in harmony with the land. This emphasis on living in and off the land, learning both inside and outside of the built facility, and teaching in an as-appropriate manner led to the conceptualisation of the building as a 'home' rather than an institution. Integrated student/teacher/elder residences are part of the learning environment.
The Inuit Cultural Learning Facility project was highly collaborative in its design process and this is reflected in the architecture; it is a place for collaboration. A flexible central gathering space looking out over the land is the key social and cultural learning area, flanked on all sides by more specialised spaces for smaller studio based group learning. Communal 'niches' were identified as key auxiliary teaching spaces. These were developed as anchoring elements that facilitate a diverse range of learning modalities; spaces for contemplative privacy, one-on-one teaching, and social reinforcement.