Dorte Mandrup to design Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre

Dorte Mandrup has been selected as the winner of an international architectural competition to design the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre.

Photo credit: Dorte Mandrup

The team of Dorte Mandrup Architects and Guy Architects Ltd., has been announced as the winner of an international architectural competition to design the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre.

Located in Iqaluit, the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre (NIHC) will be constructed to honor the Government of Canada’s dedication to the Nunavut Agreement and Bill C-15, the UNDRIP Act.

Spanning 55,000 square feet, the facility will facilitate the return of the Nunavut Collection, consisting of ancestral and cultural items that are currently stored in southern facilities. The Centre will also offer a venue for exhibitions, performances, workshops, and other programs, and foster healing and reconciliation.

Additionally, the NIHC will provide training and assistance for the development of cultural facilities in other communities across Nunavut.

A committee including members from the Inuit Heritage Trust (IHT), Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KitIA), and the Kivaliq Inuit Association (KivIA) is overseeing the project.

“We have waited many years for this opportunity and have never been this close to realizing our dream. The need for a territorial heritage centre was first identified in the Nunavut Agreement and thirty years later we are still without a place of our own,” said IHT executive director, William Beveridge.

“As a result, many items made by our ancestors are stored in southern facilities. With few opportunities for Inuit to engage with these items, we continue to be disconnected from this important part of our cultural heritage. But there is growing momentum for an Inuit-owned and operated facility.”

According to architect Dorte Mandrup, the design of the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre was inspired by “the landscape and the movement of the snow and the wind.”

“Following the topographic curves and distinct longitudinal features of the terrain, the building sits parallel to the prevailing north-western winds. It carves into the rocky hillside overlooking Iqaluit with the large roof continuing the lines of the landscape and forming a new public space and a viewing platform from which visitors can enjoy the uninterrupted views towards Frobisher Bay and Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park,” said Mandrup.

“By taking advantage of the protective rock, the building naturally creates a shelter over the sensitive collections and exhibitions while the expansive window gesture offers a space filled with daylight and generous views towards the south-west for future gathering and activities.”

The jury was made up of Eva Aariak, Leena Evic, Piita Irniq, Nicole Luke, Moshe Safdie, Sakiasie Sowdlooapik, and Desiree Valadares.