September 21, 2018
by Canadian Architect
Seneca’s new Indigenous centre at Newnham Campus officially opened on Friday during an awakening ceremony. Designed by Toronto’s Gow Hastings Architects in collaboration with Oshweken, Ontario’s Two Row Architects, the new facility is named after the Annishnaabe word “Odeyto” – which translates to “the good journey” – the multipurpose facility is the new home of [email protected]. It is also accessible to members within the broader Indigenous community.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with Odeyto. As an Indigenous teaching, learning and gathering space, it’s a much-needed expansion to accommodate the important work of our staff and faculty supporting our Indigenous students,” says David Agnew, Seneca President. “It also represents the journey our Indigenous students have chosen, coming to Seneca as a temporary stop on their life’s journey.”
Equipped with an office space, a computer lab, a kitchen and dedicated space for Indigenous elders, Odeyto is the only Indigenous hub of its kind between Highway 401 and Barrie, Ontario.
Indigenous culture influenced various aspects of the facility, from its general exterior shape to the details of its interior décor. Two Row’s approach follow the ‘Design for Seven Generations’ principles, which distinguish all Native American buildings, contemporary and historical alike. Historically, buildings were dependant on the natural materials and processes that were available in their particular climate and area producing an architecture that is indigenous and relative to its immediate environment. Using a Native American Methodology results in a building that aims at achieving a level of sustainable development allowing for future generations to live with the same natural resources that are available today.
“The structure looks like a canoe resting on its side and the curvature of the roof mimics the position of the sun on June 21, the annual National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada,” adds Mark Solomon, Associate Dean Student Services and Indigenous Education. “A neon sign created by the Cree visual artist Joi Arcand is among the Indigenized features inside Odeyto. It’s truly a home for our Indigenous students.”
The awakening ceremony also includes activities such as the planting of a tree of peace, drumming and medicinal bag giveaway, with attendees being treated to traditional Indigenous refreshments.
More information about Two Row Architects’ design methodology is available via the firm’s official website, linked here. More information about Gow Hastings can be found here. Photos via Two Row Architecture.