Aboriginal Wellness CentreIn Partnership with Kearon Roy-Taylor
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
3rd Year Option Studio, Three Dualisms, Fall 2016, University of Toronto
Professors: Mason White and Lola Sheppard
The gathering together of Seven Stones addresses the challenge of bringing together the diversity and geographic dispersion of the Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories. Exposed bedrock is a ubiquitous and beautiful feature in the landscape, and the territory is home to the oldest surface geology in the world. Stone here has an unparalleled capacity for the storage of time; it was here long before us and will remain after we are gone. Aboriginal groups both above and below the treeline have leveraged the capacity of stone to provide wayfinding on a barren landscape, store hunting caches for future need, provide heat and healing, and to provide a strong foundation on which to build community.
Each building is programmed to provide a link to the past while showing a way towards the future. The diversity of the forms and programs are linked together by a mortar that supports the processes and programs dedicated to wellness. Together the stones and mortar encircle a natural rocky outcrop in the site, enhancing the spatial quality of the landscape and reinforcing a sense of belonging where the many are brought together to form a community.
The studio began with collective research, leading to the development of nine design projects produced by teams and individuals. The studio traveled to Yellowknife in October 2016 to visit project sites and meet with stakeholders including Dene leaders, the Government of Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services, and the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research.