top of page


Habiter le Nord québécois


Habiter le Nord québécois


Calls to Action

Making Things Happen


Build responsibly with Inuit ingenuity in mind

    • Establish local professional training programs in construction to develop a skilled labour force in Nunavik.

    • Promote apprenticeships based on trust between mentors and apprentices.

    • Promote Inuit-led construction initiatives, such as solidarity coops, on-site training, and other startups, to follow in the footsteps of local innovators.

    • Promote opportunities for makers and creators (kayaks, sculpture, sewing, etc.) to contribute to the transformation of built environments.

    • Develop Inuit-led training programs in design fields, including architecture and urban design.

    • Organize building site timelines and calendars to fit with the Inuit way of life by respecting hunting periods, work-life balance, etc.

    • Ensure year-round construction schedules, including during winter, to provide Inuit with steady jobs and income. (See Prefabrication key)

    • Use local traditional expertise to adjust or rethink construction or assembly methods. For example, take inspiration from kayak making, sewing, stone carving, igloo building, etc.

    • Encourage the construction of individual or mutualized workshops dedicated to sharing skills (creating, building, making) and practicing traditional activities.

    • Locate them near or as extensions of the home to create mixed-use neighbourhoods and perpetuate the transfer of Inuit know-how

    • Choose appropriate foundations to preserve the natural soil and maintain/reinforce the inhabitants’ connection to the ground.

    • Enforce land preservation areas designated by the community.

    • Reserve/reuse existing pads or granular material for new construction (buildings, roads, parking) before building new ones, particularly in a context of gravel shortage.

    • Review the potential of overlooked bedrock sites within the village and the possibilities offered through new techniques and foundations, such as piles, concrete or stonewalls, cut and fill, etc.

    • Consult Permafrost Data Nunavik for updated information. 

    • Explore alternative systems for appropriate sectors of the village to rely less on trucks for water service and reduce the need for pads.

    • Combine walkways and utilidors, among other strategies, to form a structuring and useful network for reliable water quality.

    • Create permanent construction jobs through locally managed prefab factories, workshops, and storage facilities for wall panels, sheds, cabinetry, furniture, etc.

    • Improve supply by relying less on ship and plane deliveries and more on local resources.

    • Lower overall building costs and keep the money in Nunavik for the benefit of its labour force and communities.

    • Design replicable modules with regular volume and structure made of robust yet replaceable components and materials, requiring simple assembly methods and allowing for easier renovation down the road.

    • Standardize to facilitate transportation, aggregation, renovation, and/or replacement.

    • Promote the design of “evolutive” housing types that can adapt over time.

    • In line with incremental housing, provide self-builders with “basic” units equipped with services (plumbing, electricity) that can be adapted and completed to better meet the household’s immediate and future needs.

    • Adjust legal/regulatory frameworks to enable tenants to personalize and improve their homes to better suit their needs, keeping with best practices in sustainable construction.

    • Provide opportunities for self-renovators to develop their skills: training, subsidies, workshops.

    • Work with abundant/existing local resources, such as containers or materials available at the community landfill (or “Canadian Tire”).

    • Repurpose: Give a second life to materials that would otherwise end up as waste.

    • Think of implementing recycling/sorting centres to provide useful materials to help renovations and create jobs.

    • Before building new community amenities, think of renovating existing ones to fit new needs.

    • Anticipate future needs to allow for sustainable and adaptive reuse.

    • Implement simple and easily repairable building systems over costly technologies to enable households to have control over their own comfort.

    • Expose interior wall components (structure, pipes, wires) or make them easily accessible to minimize the use of costly or inappropriate materials, such as gypsum boards.

    • Install isolating materials outside (over the structure).

    • Encourage building configurations or groupings that reduce the impact of winds/cold weather to use less energy for heating (joined housing units sharing partition walls, compact siting of detached buildings, etc.).

    • Promote proximity between buildings and to services to reduce the need for vehicle fuel.

    • Provide information to occupants/owners on how to use mechanical systems.

    • Raise awareness about the impact of certain energy consumption practices (e.g. opening windows to aerate in winter).

    • Promote strategies (wind, solar, hydro) that are acceptable to and beneficial for communities.

    • Optimize sustainable planning opportunities afforded by the transition.


Dwell in culturally appropriate homes

    • Highlight the meaningful connections between housing and the land, by providing views or with thoughtful room orientations or uses.

    • Ensure a harmonious integration within the natural environment by way of materials choice, a connection to the ground, and adaptation to seasons. (See Wise Siting key)

    • Ensure that housing evolves according to the needs of families and kin by providing choices of types, variety of tenure, and flexible spaces.

    • Make dwellings and families the driving forces of vibrant communities by favouring clusters (unifying) over linear configurations.

    • Provide comfortable and durably built housing that is resilient to the long-term effects of climate change.

    • Cater to today’s needs through energy-efficient construction, allotted space to work or study, and reliable and affordable Internet service.

    • Design spaces adapted for sewing, carving, meat cutting, eating country food on the floor, etc.

    • Consider the possibilities of practicing these activities outside and adapt the spaces and transitions accordingly.

    • Create spaces to showcase Inuit art and crafts or other belongings by integrating thoughtfully designed furniture and storage.

    • Think of walls as components of the home’s social space. (See Flexibility key)

    • Position the house and windows to maximize sunlight and passive heating.

    • Place the house entrance on a side opposite to dominant winds.

    • Make use of land attributes to enhance a sense of security against the elements (stable soil above flood levels, natural wind deflectors, etc.).

    • Take advantage of the topography and solid ground to anchor buildings on rock outcrops without the use of pads. (See Relation to Ground key)

    • Orient the house and windows to avoid facing neighbours in “face to face” situations.

    • Offer views of meaningful places and the land, in line with Nuna cabin life.

    • Include sheds and exterior spaces to store vehicles and other belongings.

    • Consider the various meanings and practicalities attached to storage (regarding food conservation, for example).

    • Include enough protected space near the house to do traditional activities in all seasons: tents, smoking and drying structures, fire or barbecue pits, etc.

    • Include a large, open, central space at the heart of the home to allow for family gatherings.

    • Ensure that the pulaarvik is connected to other rooms, as well as to the exterior surroundings.

    • Work with generous height and natural light.

    • Promote loop circulation, mezzanines, and different floor levels to make the home a more social space.

    • Locate the kitchen and the entrances near the pulaarvik.

    • Include porches that cater to diverse needs (mud room, storage, meat drying, etc.) and provide a thermal transition between outdoors and indoors.

    • Plan for adequate counter space and sink (food preparation, washing up) to complement the kitchen.

    • Include significant transition areas when entering the home for people to feel comfortable when crossing from the collective to the intimate areas.

    • Plan for thresholds that adjust to the evolving needs for intimacy within the family (for youth requiring more privacy, for example).

    • Design integrated furniture for residents and visitors to use to organize a convivial space.

    • Provide storage wherever possible, such as underneath benches or in kitchen islands.

    • Think ergonomics (table for sitting on the floor) and user comfort (elders, children, disabilities).

    • Design “reversible” spaces that can easily and quickly accommodate, adapt, or be transformed.

    • Work with free plans that avoid limiting partitions in favour of versatile configurations where multiple activities can take place.

    • Design floor-to-ceiling furniture that can be moved and serve as both storage and partition, depending on the activity, number of people gathering, or changing family situations.

    • Ensure spatial transformation over time by anticipating the household’s future needs.

    • Favour simple construction layouts and methods, and easy to find/replace construction materials to create extensions (in line with incremental housing principles).

    • Include sufficient windows in larger rooms with proper light and air flow into the future partitioned spaces.

    • Think of load-bearing walls in anticipation of adding a mezzanine or a storey for extra bedrooms.

    • Include private spaces for quiet time or calm activities, such as studying, sewing, or sleeping.

    • See that each room has access to natural light and ventilation.

    • Develop alternatives to private ownership and social housing to better suit a growing number of housing needs: co-ownership (cooperative, co-housing), rentals (private, non-profit), rent-to-own, transitional (temporary stay, shelter, co-living), etc.

    • Build diverse housing types within the same neighbourhood to enable people to live together in detached (single-family, tiny house), joined (duplex, rowhouse), or collective (multifamily, elderly, youth) housing.

    • Encourage solidarity among generations with intergenerational housing or by maximizing proximity between youth and elders’ residences.

    • Offer the possibility of living outside the village year-round in “off-grid” settlements.

    • Link these settlements with working opportunities (e.g. live/work communities dedicated to food production) and community transportation.

    • Share amenities between willing households (family, friends) to lower individual costs (to invest in better housing), optimize solidarity, and multiply opportunities for social activities/interaction.

    • Think of innovative options such as “in-between” porches, shared storage or shacks, laundry facilities, community workshops/makerspaces, and greenhouses.


Plan villages for sustainable community living

    • Give Nunavimmiut the central voice in the planning of village expansions or transformations.

    • Foster community-driven approaches to decision making and planning, such as the Parnasimautik consultation.

    • Put forth collaborative design processes.

    • Place traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) at the heart of decision-making processes.

    • Adopt decolonized planning methods and rely on actual context-based approaches grounded in Inuit ways of thinking, doing, and being.

    • Look to the 7th Generation when making decisions today: remember the legacy while considering the impact on future generations.

    • Think outside the “functionalist” toolbox.

    • Develop innovative decision-making tools and planning methods that support community resilience: form-based codes, locally-grounded scenarios that allow for flexibility, collaborative design, decision-making committees involving NV and Landholding representatives, etc.

    • Identify and protect ecosystems in and around the village, where plants, animals, and other living organisms, as well as soils, atmosphere, and water, can co-exist.

    • Preserve coastal environments by prioritizing soft and ecological over hard engineering.

    • Renaturalize the shorelines to increase resilience to erosion.

    • Provide public access to water and ice.

    • Facilitate land access through shared cabins and mobility equipment to consolidate the local food circuit and increase food security, all the way to the freezer.

    • Maintain berry-picking spots within or close to the villages

    • Inventory meaningful locations, such as sacred places, exceptional viewpoints, or berry-picking spots.

    • Adopt conservation measures to not only preserve these locations and their stories for future generations but also to make place for new memories where traditions meet aspirations for a prideful future.

    • Situate buildings and equipment in ways that highlight meaningful views toward natural or human elements, such as water, mountains, and beacons.

    • Reinforce the social nature of gathering places and frequently used buildings: arenas, community centres, coop entrances, etc.

    • Consider points of contacts with the land as meeting spaces in their own right, and maintain their access and comfort: shores, docks, hills, etc.

    • Renovate existing buildings or build new community facilities to provide new meeting spaces for diverse groups: intergenerational centres, youth centres, family houses, makerspaces, etc.

    • Consider formal and informal ways of sharing and interacting in public space

    • Strengthen the unifying and welcoming role of new significant community buildings or spaces by locating them in easily accessible areas of the village, where people already converge: on underused sites in or near the center, close to other buildings/spaces, etc.

    • Reserve valuable sites such as promontories for light and/or easily demountable structures (platforms, pavilions).

    • Plan exterior or temperate in-between meeting places to enable year-round use.

    • Ensure climatic comfort by blocking prevailing winds and limiting snow accumulation, while providing sunlight (with unaligned buildings, for example).

    • Design spaces that express, reflect, or “make visible” Inuit culture and stories.

    • Consider references to nature’s elements or figures, eloquent in interpreting the Inuit way of life and connections to the land.

    • Ensure that references or stories specific to each community are highlighted to avoid generic or stereotypical designs.

    • Give streets a human scale by reducing the standard width, thereby discouraging speeding and using less granular material.

    • Encourage walking with compact grids, using short distances between intersections to foster a healthy lifestyle.

    • Favour grids (unifying) over linear configurations (sprawling) for more opportunities to walk and socialize.

    • Use loops only if well connected to other areas, to avoid isolation.

    • Weave a “finer” network of pathways to complement vehicular streets and allow for multiple scales and speeds of mobility.

    • Provide well-defined green pathways between houses to offer safe areas to walk, meet people, play, and see or access the land.

    • Ensure stimulating streetscapes with views of significant markers and beacons, including the land, to reinforce spatial orientation and maintain a sense of security.

    • Prioritize pedestrian safety over vehicular fluidity—especially that of trucks.

    • Use street lighting and traffic-calming strategies (marked intersections, roadside bollards or rocks) to reinforce security.

    • Renovate or extend existing dwellings to accommodate family members by mobilizing groups and households that are open to such transformations.

    • Consider multigenerational housing (such as “granny flats”) to enable people to choose their neighbours and to make density more acceptable.

    • Minimize the impacts of proximity by adopting siting strategies such as clusters to avoid “face-to-face” situations.

    • Promote positive neighbourhood dynamics and solidarity with shared inside or outside spaces.

    • Build smaller housing types on smaller lots to provide alternatives to larger single-family houses (e.g. tiny houses, apartments, multigenerational houses).

    • Create financial incentives for those interested in making this choice.

    • Implement new residential buildings that are more compact, closer together, or adjacent, enabling those who don’t have access to a car to live within walking distance of services.

    • Allow small-scale services in residential areas that are further from the center to encourage a mix of uses and opportunities, including employment.

    • Locate meeting spaces near housing to ensure their natural supervision by community members within an animated, mixed-use environment.

bottom of page