LEES+Associates will provide landscape design for the long-awaited Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre in Iqaluit. The winning design team of Dorte Mandrup (Lead Architect), Guy Architects (Architect of Record), LEES+Associates, EXP Services, Adjeleian Allen Rubeli, Pageau Morel, Altus Group, and Indigenous consultants Kirt Ejesiak and Alexander Flaherty was announced on July 9th 2023 following an international design competition.
LEES+Associates is excited to have been chosen for this important project that will promote greater awareness of Inuit culture and support cultural healing and reconciliation between Inuit and non-Inuit. The centre will offer a place where Inuit can reconnect with this important part of their cultural heritage and collective past through objects, stories, and activities.
The winning proposal convinced the jury with their beautiful and poetic response to the requirements outlined in the Feasibility Study and during the March Design Week in Iqaluit. Jury members felt that Mandrup heard and understood community perspectives regarding Inuit Traditional Knowledge and the healing potential for the NIHC. The reference to kalutoqaniq resonated with the jury, the prevailing wind causing shapes and patterns in the snowdrifts. They appreciated the reference to Inuit wayfinding and integration into the landscape. They liked the idea of the building growing from the land, and the glowing lights in the landscape, for the eyes of the people of Nunavut. They liked the living green roof and the idea of having the more protected functional spaces set deeper into the hill. They thought the design and shape were interesting and that the building had an efficient footprint.
Dorte Mandrup explains the concept: The design of the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre is inspired by the landscape and the movement of the snow and the wind. Following the topographic curves and distinct longitudinal features of the terrain, the building sits parallel to the prevailing north-western winds. It carves into the rocky hillside overlooking Iqaluit with the large roof continuing the lines of the landscape and forming a new public space and a viewing platform from which visitors can enjoy the uninterrupted views towards Frobisher Bay and Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park. By taking advantage of the protective rock, the building naturally creates a shelter over the sensitive collections and exhibitions while the expansive window gesture offers a space filled with daylight and generous views towards the south-west for future gathering and activities.