Figurr Architects Collective’s Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute draws from the traditions of native peoples to create a modern center for cultural celebration in Quebec. The wooden-shelled building references traditional Cree culture, completing the circular plan common in small villages. Both museum and meeting place, the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute fuses vernacular architecture with modern green practices in a gorgeous building anyone would be proud of.
The building’s shape was derived from the native Cree people’s traditional longhouse, called a shaptuan, which was common in the village of Ouje-Bougoumou where the center now stands. The ground floor is an open wooden shell that boasts exposed curved beams and an entrance that evokes a traditional shelter. Local wood is used throughout to symbolize a deep connection to the surrounding forest, and ample day lighting cuts down on energy consumption. The building is currently awaiting LEED certification.
The open plan also allows the structure to serve as a multi-purpose center for the community. Inside, the ground floor is used for dance and music shows, put on by the resident Band Council, which has their offices inside. When performances aren’t scheduled, the ground floor doubles as a community center for storyteller events and the elderly’s use. Historical artifacts and cultural traditions of the Cree people are displayed in a museum section on the lower levels, preserving local folklore and history. Offices for both the Band Council and museum administration are also on the lower floors.
The gorgeous Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute ties together the village’s historical traditions, while giving back to the community with a state-of-the-art meeting place.