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Habiter le Nord québécois


Habiter le Nord québécois



Work with What’s Already There

Tunu Napartuk

Blueprint for a Hack: Leveraging Informal Building Practices (2018)

"This “do it yourself” approach is an inspired way to involve the community, including the youth."

Inuit ingenuity drives the transformation of cabins on the land, adapting them over time to make them easier to use. They are often built from upcycled materials, making them both environmentally and ecologically sustainable.

Nunavimmiut have the self-determining potential to undertake renovation processes. By “doing it yourself”, spaces have a greater chance of suiting aspirations and inspiring communities. However, self or community-led renovation initiatives are not encouraged, especially in the current context of social housing regulations.

What We've Learned

Paths for Change

Renovation initiatives could enable self-builders in acquiring new skills and develop greater autonomy. Through opportunities to innovate beyond the confines of Southern planning practices, locally driven solutions can emerge from within communities to form the roots of a sustainable construction industry in Nunavik. Adjusting the current frameworks could lead to self-renovation to improve housing: moving partitions, adding or changing windows, re-siding, etc.

Makerspaces can positively contribute to Inuit self-determination by supporting the local making culture. This tool supports self-building initiatives and entrepreneurship for construction and design innovations by and for Northern communities.

These principles and practices should be encouraged and replicated in the village to inspire strategies to reuse existing buildings (to transform obsolete ones into local shops or services, or temporary housing) and materials, and transform neighbourhoods into a more sustainable environment in the community’s true image.

Calls to Action

58. Promote self-renovation initiatives in social housing

  • 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.

59. Upcycle materials to reduce renovation costs

  • 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.

60. Transform existing buildings to meet new needs

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

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

This project proposes the renovation of a standard five-bedroom model house (SHQ 1987) into a home that resonates with Inuit lifestyles, aspirations, and relationships to the land. This home can double as a makerspace, embracing local know-how in such activities as processing country food or woodworking as a meaningful learning environment. It also creates new connections with the neighbourhood.

From cold storage to a warm workspace, the expanded porch features storage, freezers, a foldable workstation and bench, a floor drain, a meat-drying system, and a useful pass-through to facilitate the entry/exit of materials. This versatile workshop area is connected to the kitchen and opens into a spacious pulaarvik at the heart of the family home. With this addition, the home can better adapt to life’s changes and provide a potential new life cycle through the disassembly, transformation, and repurposing of its own components.

Existing buildings are rich in resources. Requiring minimal materials, tools, or specialized trades, renovations can empower individuals in the community to achieve greater autonomy.

By M. Bergeron and T. Morissette, École d’architecture de l’Université Laval, 2023

Stories of Conviviality

Innovations: Thinking Outside the Box

Learning by Making

Community facilities

Sharing Between Generations

Community facilities

Rethinking Nunavik’s Houses


DIY Center

Community facilities

Hackathon Kuujjuaq

Watch and learn


Open Access

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