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Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre

For Teeple Architects and Lateral Office, the vision for the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre was rooted in collaboration. Every two weeks, the architects convened with an Inuit Design Advisory Council comprising Theresie Tungilik, Goretti Kakuktinniq, Special Kusugak, Rassi Nashalik, Jessica Kotierk, Shirley Tagalik and Attima Hadlari. It started with conversations, which set out the groundwork for a new cultural landmark. The space would be welcoming to all and feel like home while celebrating the traditions and objects of Inuit culture and creating connection between the indoors and the natural realm. 

After the initial dialogue helped to shape the project’s priorities, the advisory council remained a key part of the design process. Collectively, the group developed a set of playing cards — representing ideas such as “Preserving Traditional Crafts,” “Working with the Elements” and “Shared Spaces” — which helped the team determine the layering of spaces. For Teeple and Lateral Office, the process was less an exercise in creative agency and architectural vision than a translation of community spirit into built form. As the architects put it, it yielded “a vision codesigned by many and addressing the interests of all.” 

“There’s a very clear sense on how space should be used — it’s fluid. It responds to the landscape and makes an effort to represent culture.”
Tosin Oshinowo, AZ Awards 2024 Juror

Envisioned for a rocky site, the 5,800-square-metre complex embraces its northern topography: The cultural centre is contoured around the two tallest points of elevation. Inviting varied paths of circulation and engagement, it is home to a living museum where the galleries are joined by flexible spaces for community food preparation, child care, knowledge transfer, carving, making and — above all — gathering. 

In lieu of an organizing formal gesture, the architecture is guided by the landscape, as well as Inuit material culture. For example, the suspended lattice ceiling is inspired by qamutiik sleds, and the structural form recalls inter-seasonal qarmaq dwellings. Inside, Nunavut soapstone lines the storage spaces, while an intricate floor pattern echoes the amauti parkas traditionally worn by Inuit women. Moreover, the form is carefully contoured to account for local conditions, including frequent snowdrifts, dark winters, intensely light-filled summers and strong winds.

Even the scale model is a product of community and landscape, rather than settler architecture: Hand-carved by artist Greg Morgan, the sinuous form — like the design it represents — foregrounds an expression of Inuit culture.

Team: Mason White, Lola Sheppard and Kearon Roy Taylor (Lateral Office); Stephen Teeple, Tomer Diamant and Dhroov Patel (Teeple Architects); Theresie Tungilik, Goretti Kakuktinniq, Rassi Nashalik, Jessica Kotierk, Special Kusugak, Shirley Tagalik and Attima Hadlari (Inuit Design Advisory Council)

Winner: Ideas, Prototypes and Unbuilt Projects
People’s Choice: Ideas, Prototypes and Unbuilt Projects
Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre (Lateral Office and Teeple Architects)

This concept for the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre is guided by the landscape, as well as Inuit material culture.

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