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The right space for a bit of everything

The right space for a bit of everything was presented by Thomassie Mangiok (Designer and advocate from Ivujivik, Nunavik) as part of the Topical Session Dwelling Differently : New practices for culturally sustainable environments for Northern communities at ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting 2022.


Inuit dwell in imposed buildings not adapted to the north’s present and future reality. Such dwellings are made with resources naturally unavailable in the region and with the use of very expensive vehicles sent through sealift. This is in absolute contrast to the traditional Inuit designs, snow houses were made with on-site resources, they were designed and adapted to everyone’s needs; Inuit could get any number of rooms to fulfill any requirements.

Adapting modular dwellings would be a traditional evolution to the Inuit illuit/igloos, imagine expanding houses to accommodate new relatives, to grow food, to process traditional food, to sew, to work on art, and so much more. Our housing crisis and food insecurity could easily be addressed if Inuit are realistically given an opportunity to apply solutions.

The arctic isn’t an ideal location to build and sell houses, so nearly all Nunavik inhabitants rent apartments or houses. When a dwelling is too small for an extending family, there are dwelling exchanges even when they had unequally invested in building improvements or added a new cabin close by. Our current model simply isn’t good, the traditional model that allows dwelling expansion worked for hundreds of years is incomparably preferable.

Multiple buildings have tilted due to the permafrost’s thawing, repairs and renovations are not just expensive, but they leave moisture and cold air inside causing more damage. Solid framed modular rooms answer multiple challenges and needs, imagine being able to remove rooms to save on heating cost, and being able to add rooms sideways or in layers. Damaged rooms can quickly be repaired or replaced. Specialized added modules give space for services and production, they’ll stimulate economy and increase quality of life in isolated locations of our rich country.

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