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Architects jumped gun on Indigenous “contest”

August 14, 2018

As part of the federal governments $1.5 billion housing plan for Indigenous Canadians, it has launched a $30 million contest to come up new ideas.
But Canada’s Architects Without Borders (AWB) may have already come up with solutions to help alleviate the generally poor housing conditions on Canada’s 600 Indigenous communities and reserves. In 2017, the Winnipeg-based AWB held an Indigenous Housing Competition to “improve opportunities to design, deliver and maintain housing” for remote Indigenous communities.
The federal Liberals are offering $30 million to Indigenous communities with the contest in a bid, it says, to entice private sector builders to get involved in constructing and repairing homes on First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities.
Details are scant on how any federal contest prize money would be distributed.
Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said government funding alone can't surmount the scale of the housing problem. She said the contest would help draw out needed policy changes for projects and ideas that aren't easily permitted under existing funding rules, such as mixed-used projects that combine residential and commercial space.
The government said it is looking to fund projects that can be replicated in other communities, bring back traditional Indigenous building styles and techniques, and create an economic boost for communities that could include sourcing materials locally or providing job training to young people.
"This is an opportunity to say 'if you have an idea of how you can actually address the social problem and at the same time provide housing space' then these are the kinds of things we would like to support," Philpott told Canadian Press.
The AWB Indigenous Housing Competition attracted 80 entries and three winners.
First place went to a project designed for Salluit, Nunavik, in the northern portion of Quebec, by Marie-Claude Gravel, Pierre-Olivier Demeule and Antonin Boulanger Cartier. The team’s concept called for contemporary open-plan homes clustered close together to reduce infrastructure costs, and included public spaces and an emphasis on using local workers and materials.


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