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Dwelling in Nunavik... Differently

Supervised by Myriam Blais (co-investigator), with Myrtille Bayle and Arianne Côté (student-inverstigators and teaching assistants), Living in Nunavik… differently was an architecture studio that took place during the 2020 Fall semester with a group of fifteen undergraduate students from École d’architecture de l’Université Laval. The studio was based on a creative – and somewhat utopian – exploration of Inuit housing by integrating three themes:

Living – Building – Transforming.

The studio aimed at understanding the nomadic reality that characterized the Inuit relationship (and still does today) to their dwelling territory. The nomad ideal (and/or its transposition/interpretation) supports the design thinking at different scales, occasions and for a variety of people. Doing so, the studio has attempted to develop innovative housing designs while being culturally and territorially appropriate for the Inuit communities. The Northern Village of Kangiqsualujjuuaq was the privileged partner in this adventure.

Students : Geneviève Bacque, Marianne Bahl, Maude Boulay, Isabelle Boily, Trisha Brown, Lyna Chambaz, Sarah-Ève Cloutier, Florence Durocher, Alexina Godbout, Julien Hamon-Bernard, Sarah Lebeau, Xavier Moreau, Félix Morin, Samuel Tourigny and Charlie Wenger


0. Encounter | Portray the Cold

As a starter, the students translated their first understading of the environment of the Inuit communities in Nunavik into a space, a Place of the Cold. Cultures and communities from Northern Quebec live and appreciate the cold quite differently from the South of the province. This short project is an interpretation of their encounter.

This exercise was carried out in parallel with an urban design studio/lab led by Geneviève Vachon (principal co-investigator) and Érick Rivard (collaborator).


Then began the housing project in three steps:

1. In the manner of… [living / culture]

“In the manner of…” was a reflection about the meaning of livin and dwelling in the Inuit context, investigating a variety of innovative housing typologies for Nunavik. The students were paired with architects, by the study of their work, who have reflections and practices “useful” for their research-creation project.

List of the mentors (firm or architect)

Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Osaka, Japan

Elemental (Alejandro Aravena), Los Conquistadores, Chili

Steven Holl Artchitects, New-York, United-States Louis Kahn, Philadelphia, United States

Lateral Office, Toronto, Canada

Glenn Murcutt, Sydney, Australia

Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, Halifax, Canada Juhani Pallaasma, Helsinki, Finland

Renzo Piano Building Workshop Architects, Genoa, Italy

Saunders Architecture, Bergen, Norway

Shim and Sutcliffe Architects, Toronto, Canada

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, New-York, United States

Peter Zumthor, Basel, Switzerland

A selection of the student's works is presented below:


2. Invention innovation [building / grammar]

“Invention innovation” focus on the precise and elaborate conception and construction of housing for the Inuit communities. The objective of this step was to design a project of “utopian” nature [doing differently] that also suggests frugal and realistic approach to construction.


3. To live … truly? [transforming / stories]

While revising, clarifying and refining the design, “To live… truly” aimed at proposing a “tale” that combined a “cultural sensibility” and a “constructive innovation”, a prospective look at two concepts - reality and execution, using judiciously all the resources of the communities (human, material, natural and more).

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