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Habiter le Nord québécois


Habiter le Nord québécois



Build for Change

Thomassie Mangiok

The right space for a bit of everything (2022)

"Solid framed modular rooms [could] answer multiple challenges and needs. […] The modular buildings would have to respect a grid, to be a standard, […] so when we put the rooms together, everything just flows. They have to be easy to connect."

Nunavik’s construction industry is disconnected from its communities. Fabrication occurs in the South, with materials shipped North on cargo ships or sealifts, and assembly is completed by Southern fly-in fly-out construction crews.

Building costs increase every year. By expanding opportunities for local training and innovation, several of these issues can be addressed simultaneously. An appreciation for Inuit values and their robust making culture should constitute the basis for this change.

What We've Learned

Paths for Change

Local prefabrication could be a year-long, off-site construction strategy—and job opportunity—for an Inuit labour force with seasonal lifestyles. Prefab factories and/or workshops could train and empower young apprentices in a controlled, comfortable, safe, well-equipped environment, thus leading to fulfilling employment, creative initiatives, and a greater sense of responsibility and pride.

Building according to modular and standardized components offers innovative ways to adapt housing to the evolving context of Inuit households. Being able to add rooms incrementally fulfills the often-expressed need for more space for when a new member is welcomed into the family or for creating art/making crafts or preparing country food. In the Inuit way, cabins are simply built to allow for easy extensions and transformations.

A home is made of personalized rooms whose number, function, size, and interconnections are chosen (and transformed) by its occupants. “Evolutive” homes could help curb the currently on-going unfair house exchanges. When the space is not yet needed or used, storing prefabricated add-ons or modules in the village could provide temporary support and autonomy for those without a home.

Modular dwellings also contribute to saving heating costs by enabling the shutting off of unused spaces. Like the traditional illuit, the goal is to use on-site resources to design dwellings that are better adapted to their users.

Calls to Action

55. Implement prefabrication infrastructures in Nunavik

  • 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.

56. Work with standardized housing modules

  • 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.

57. Anticipate future extensions

  • 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.

Inuit dwell in imposed buildings that are ill-adapted to Northern realities, thereby dramatically contrasting with traditional Inuit designs. Indeed, snow houses were made with on-site resources; they were designed and adapted to everyone’s needs. Inuit could have any number of rooms to fulfill any requirements. Adapting modular dwellings is the evolution of traditional Inuit illuit (igloos).

Imagine expanding houses that can accommodate new relatives, grow food, process traditional food, sew, work on art, and much more. The traditional model of dwelling expansion, which has worked for hundreds of years, is thus incomparably preferable.

Solid-frame modular rooms could address multiple challenges and needs. The idea is being able to remove rooms to save on heating costs, and add rooms sideways or in layers. Damaged rooms can quickly be repaired or replaced.

These specialized additions will provide vital space for activities, services, and production. They will stimulate economy and increase the quality of life in isolated locations of Nunavik.

Watch video here

By Thomassie Mangiok, Pirnoma Technologies Inc., Ivujivik

The Right Space for a Bit of Everything

Innovations: Thinking Outside the Box

Housing as Empowerment


Between Village and Land


Sharing Between Generations

Community facilities

Containers for Porches


Inuit Sense of Place

Community facilities


Open Access

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