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Fort Severn housing project earns architecture nod

2021 Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence mark the highest level of design recognition in Canada

A housing project designed to meet the needs of residents in Fort Severn First Nation has been selected as the winner of a 2021 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence.

Conceptualized by Two Row Architect of Six Nations of the Grand River and KPMB of Toronto, the project is one of six selected for the national awards, now in their 54th year and the highest recognition for future architecture projects in Canada.

The winning design is the result of an initiative of the National Research Council of Canada’s Path to Healthy Homes initiative, which pairs Indigenous communities with Indigenous-led architectural firms in an effort to produce a best practices manual for the design of affordable, resilient, culturally appropriate Indigenous housing.

It’s an effort to address the issues of overcrowding and substandard housing, which are faced by 20 to 25 per cent of Indigenous people in Canada.

In Fort Severn, designers worked closed with band leaders and community members to glean input on their design.

The ‘Resilient Duplex’ enables Elders to live independently longer, while providing units for young families.

According to the judges, “The Resilient Duplex iterative housing system allows elders and young families to live as neighbours and support each other. A single-storey accessible elder’s apartment is attached to a two-bedroom unit with a flexible loft space. The two units share an entry porch, encouraging interaction between neighbours, and the elder’s apartment has a private terrace off the bedroom.”

In their design, the team also considered challenges of building in the remote north.

The project currently remains in the design phase, while proponents seek out funding to move it forward to construction.

Canadian Architect's full synopsis of the project is available to read here.