Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet & Associates completes new facility for Arctic Research
The Community Science Centre was built as part of the Centre for Northern Studies Arctic Research Station Campus of Laval University in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik, a unique bicultural aboriginal community of 800 Cree and 600 Inuit people, at the junction of the taiga and the tundra, on the South-Eastern shore of Hudson Bay. This site has been a hub for research on geo- and ecosystems in Northern Quebec since 1961.
It is a two storey, 395-sq-m building with training and conference installations on the ground floor, and residential facilities on the second floor for visiting researchers.The entrance hall and teaching / conference rooms are designed for use by scientists as well as local school groups for learning activities and popularisation of science; the hall also displays a permanent exhibition describing the territory's cultural and scientific history.
Located at the core of a semicircle formed by the station's seven other buildings, it is the public face of the research station. Its architecture and orientation bring the campus buildings together, while accommodating a large program in a manner sensitive to the local built fabric.
From the beginning, the Centre had a very clear vision of its objectives, butwas unclear as to how these would unfold and be translated into built form. It was important that its architecture reflect Inuit and Cree cultures in a significant way. This was achieved by reaching out to the material culture of both communities. It made it possible to have them rub shoulders comfortably within a single building.
Whereas the main roof scape alludes to the scientists' traditional field tents, the poles that modulate the façade and the tepee structure next to the entrance are a tribute to Cree culture. They nod to Cree ingenuity and to the nickname 'tent people' given by local residents to the researchers who pitch their tents on the land in the summer. An inukshuk was also integrated to the centre as homage to the Inuit culture.