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Celebrating Indigenous Architecture: Exploring 5 Projects from Around the World

(photo from Taylor and Hinds)

This Indigenous People’s Day, we are highlighting some of the beautiful architecture and design inspired by the unparalleled artistry of indigenous groups around the world. Take a look at five projects below, and find more indigenous structures by clicking each architect’s name!

Krakani Lumi

Location: Mount William National Park, Tasmania

Architect: Taylor and Hinds

This resting area at a national park in Tasmania was commissioned by the nation’s Aboriginal Land Council and provides accommodations for staff and walkers. The interior includes a circular fire pit; produce store, kitchen and dining area in the middle, all inspired by the original shelters created by settlers in the area. Using silvertop ash, a native wood, to create the shell, the structure is ingeniously designed to collect rainwater on the roof, equipped with solar and diesel power, and uses gas-generated refrigeration and heating, making the Krakani Lumi a modernized version of a classic Tasmanian structure. In 2018, the site opened for storytelling where aboriginal folks can share oral tales of Tasmania’s first settlers. (photo from Taylor and Hinds)

Meno Ya Win Health Centre

Location, Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada

Designed by indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal, this incredible health center in Canada near the Sioux reservation integrates western health care with native practices, while enclosed in a structure inspired by traditional Sioux structures, such as canoes and drums. A Healing Room includes sacred objects that Sioux folks often use, with a traditional Medicine Wheel. The health center has an excellent Mental Health and Addiction Program and Integrated Pregnancy Program, making their presence as helpful and culturally respectful as possible. The staff is trained in Sioux healing practices, making Meno Ya Win an inclusive place to seek care and monitor health. A feat in wood-designed projects, the center has become a Canadian leader in contemporary health care. (photo from Douglas Cardinal)


Location: Columbus, Indiana

Designed by studio:indigenous, a Canadian design and consulting practice serving American Indian clients, this welded steel wigwam, based on traditional native structures, was featured in an Indiana design exhibition. Chris Cornelius of studio:ingenous blended historic wigwam techniques with modern technology, using bent rods and overlapping patches of outer cladding, but also implemented modern materials such as welded rebar and waterjet cut metal panels, connecting past to present. The project’s location was inspired by the Miyaamia people who are native to Indiana. (photo from studio:indigenous)

O’Siyam Pavilion

Location: Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

Acting as a public space for the Squamish Nation, a native government in Squamish, British Columbia, this pavilion is designed to resemble the area where the mountain meets the water, with an eye-catching undulating wooden roof. Commissioned by the District of Squamish, the pavilion is a common space for people of all cultures, but inspired and created for native use and celebration, including outdoor performances, art exhibits, yoga classes, awards ceremonies and community events. The pavilion aims to bring a sense of cultural appreciation and commemoration of the area’s original settlers and their reverence for nature. Since the Squamish Nation is inspired by the winds that are common in the area, the pavilion’s designers drew inspiration from depictions of wind for the structure’s shape, and the annual Squamish Wind Festival is hosted at the space each year, welcoming anyone who wants to join the festivities. (photo from Formline Architecture)

The University of Saskatchewan’s Native Studies

Gordon Oakes Redbear Student Center

Location: Saskatchewan, Canada

Architect: Douglas Cardinal

In an effort to make their campus more welcoming for indigenous students and faculty, the University of Saskatchewan commissioned Douglas Cardinal to create a new building for its Native Studies courses. The university, which is built near the original homes of the First Nations of Saskatchewan; Cree, Dakota, Dene (Chipewyan), Nakota (Assiniboine) and Saulteaux, pays tribute to the rich history and culture of the groups by focusing education and viewpoints across the college on building community and respect for one another, while unavoidably preparing students for a capitalist society that has often ignored those principles, especially for native groups. The building’s inspiration comes from the First Nations’ notion that the circle is the symbolic base for healing, knowledge, and equality, as well as the foundation for all Indigenous ceremonies. (photo from Douglas Cardinal)


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