top of page


Habiter le Nord québécois


Habiter le Nord québécois


Meaningful Meeting Places

Reinforce and Create Significant Public Space and Facilities

Tunu Napartuk

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

"A gathering place is extremely important to the Inuit. Everyone can take advantage of this space."

The best public spaces are those where family and friends can gather spontaneously and comfortably, inside or outside. The preferred locations are out on the land, but what about meeting places in the village? The success of meeting places depends on the orchestration of many factors, which include location, diversity, comfort, and design.

What We've Learned

Paths for Change

Existing outdoor meeting spaces come in various forms and sizes: playgrounds, sports fields, shores, docks, as well as small nooks, steps, or thresholds located in front of a community building. They all offer opportunities to gather and socialize in small or larger groups and are vital design elements to maintain Inuit practices and activities that strengthen the village’s community spirit. Located near streets or pathways, these outdoor spaces benefit from the safety provided by “eyes on the street”.

Other meaningful meeting places take the form of innovative community infrastructures, whose wise positioning within the villages can reinforce their public quality. Not only can these house new activities for meaningful connections among groups or generations, they also create opportunities to teach and learn informally. The public space around them, from simple pathways to covered entrances, can be made comfortable in all seasons with modest yet efficient physical adjustments, to either block harsh winds in the winter or provide shade in the summer.

The architectural expression of community buildings is important. People can recognize themselves, their stories, and their values in the design and visual qualities of public spaces. This recognition, in turn, bolsters attachment and pride.

Calls to Action

10. Enhance existing meeting spaces

  • 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.

11. Diversify opportunities to meet

  • 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

12. Position community equipment wisely

  • 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 hilltops for light and/or easily demountable structures (platforms, pavilions).

13. Design with the seasons

  • 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).

14. Prioritize Inuit design and expression

  • 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.

What if the sustainable development of a Northern Village and the design of its public space was driven by the community’s cultural roots or “local colour”, with strong connections to the land?

This project for Inukjuak puts forth land-based learning as the driving force for the design and interlinking of meaningful meeting places in the center. In the proposal, local entrepreneurship and making culture fuel this consolidation. This includes new housing to form a resilient living environment.

Various means of action are tested in this scenario: learning activities at the Innalik School are “externalized” within the center; new cultural facilities are added for the intergenerational sharing of knowledge and know-how; new housing is added to curb village sprawl; shared community equipment (mutualized storage, community kitchen) encourage and sustain solidarity; and an accessible riverbank with a new dock and facilities (including a land observation tower) multiplies opportunities to socialize and make new memories.

The main unifying meeting place is the sulluktaak, an eco-cultural corridor that activates relationships between land, community, and river while preserving biodiversity and soil integrity.

By V. Alalam and A. Corrivault-Gascon, École d’architecture de l’Université Laval, 2022

Land-Based Learning to Plan Meaningful Meeting Places

Innovations: Thinking Outside the Box

Outside the Box Innovations

A Food Footprint

A Food Footprint

Community Kitchen

A Place to Grow

A Place to Grow

Learning Space

Let's Do It Together!

Let's Do It Together!


Intergenerational Nest

Intergenerational Nest

Youth Center

Reinforcing Kuujjuaq’s Centre

Reinforcing Kuujjuaq’s Centre

Community Planning


Open Access

  • Arguin-Marchand, S, Gagnon, F, Pichette, D, Présumé, A (2020) Inuksiutinik : A territorial symbiosis. Video presentation. Habiter le Nord québécois, U. Laval, Québec.

  • Avarello, M (2023) Paysage et approche perceptive en design urbain : Fondements, composition et applicabilité d’atlas paysagers au Nunavik. Essai en design urbain, Université Laval, Québec.

  • Blais, M (2021) L’habitation première comme lieu sacré : Retour d’expérience d’une recherche-création en architecture pour de jeunes Inuit du Nunavik. Géographie et cultures, 118 : 121-133. DOI :

  • Blais, M and Vachon, M (2020) Habiter et pensées nomades : Réflexions sur l’architecture des Maisons des jeunes (et intergénérationnelles). Études Inuit Studies, 44 (1-2), pp. 237-260. DOI:

  • Dalla Costa, W (2021) Design as ceremony. Indigenous Futurities, Designing for Resilience. Global Perspectives (winter edition), Pan-Canada Lecture Series 20-21, March 10th.

  • Desbiens, C. (2017) Un nouveau sens du lieu ? « L’effet urbain » dans les communautés du Nunavik. Recherches amérindiennes au Québec, 47 (1), 151–154.

  • Parnasimautik (2015) Rapport de la consultation Parnasimautik réalisée auprès des Inuits du Nunavik en 2013. Novembre.

  • Trottier, F (2022) Résilience, urbanité et Relationalité : Qualités urbaines et principes d’aménagement fondés sur une approche de planification autochtone durable et inclusive. Essai en design urbain, Université Laval.

  • Vachon, M, Blais, M (2019) Habiter et pensées nomades : Réflexions sur l’architecture des Maisons des jeunes (et intergénérationnelles), Études Inuit Studies 44 (1-2), pp. 237-260.


bottom of page