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First Peoples House
This 12,875 sq.ft. multi-purpose educational facility located at the University of Victoria, B.C., Canada is the only major wood structure found on the campus. Tasked with accommodating Indigenous programs including a student union, Elders lounges, study areas, classrooms and ceremonial spaces, the client’s main objective was to develop a building design which honors the identity and pride of Native students both locally and nationally.

The post-and-beam structure, inspired by the Coast Salish longhouse, has primary components clad in Clear A 1x10 & 2x10 western red cedar. The vertical grain cedar is salvaged from the northwest coast of Vancouver Island by the Dididat Nation. The building is broken into 3 discrete elements (classrooms, Ceremonial Hall, administration) connected by a glazed curtainwall. The upper roof drains all water into a storm water retention pond and the lower roof is planted with indigenous grasses.

Art is integral to First Nations culture and this project incorporates carved western red cedar house posts, carved ceremonial doors and eight carved panels in its Ceremonial Hall. Woven cedar panels line the Hall walls and are inspired by the bull rush mats traditionally found in long house interiors.

A registered LEED project targeting Gold, The First Nation principal of environmental stewardship is evoked through the project’s sustainable strategies, including the use of reclaimed material for cladding and passive ventilation derived from traditional longhouse typologies.
Building Team / Key Players: Architect & Interior Designer: Alfred Waugh Architect, Contractor: Knappet Projects, Struct. Eng: Equilibrium Consulting, Cedar Wood Supplier: Coast Ecotimber, Glulam. Unit Contractor: Western Archrib
Location: University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Caption: East elevation with entrance plaza.
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