ARC1012: Design Studio 2

In Design Studio 2, graduate architecture students developed design proposals for the Haudenosaunee Centre of Excellence, a cultural centre to be located on the land of the Six Nations of the Grand River, in Brantford, Ontario. This studio hoped to be a concrete response to the calls to action in the final report of the University of Toronto's Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee.

Bo Chen

Bo writes: "The site is on land that holds an important piece of evidence regarding the history of Indigenous people. This project's purpose is to monumentalize the history of Indigenous people, and to acknowledge the coexistence metaphor (wampum belt) after the first encounter between European settlers and Indigenous people was broken. In this new museum, visitors represent rope and the exhibition rooms represent wampum. When visitors move, the rope is reconnecting all the wampum. In this way, visitors engage with the reconciliation process. Each exhibition room has a different mood, reflecting the status of Indigenous history in that specific period. One artifact is selected for each room to represent that period."

(Instructor: Aziza Chaouni)


Erin Jeong

Erin writes: "Gathered Landscape is a museum that aims to be a space where the raw materials of the sweetgrass basket provide a haptic experience that encourages people to slow down and gather together. The walls are imprinted with the texture of charred sweetgrass, but the visual focus is on the field of sweetgrass that hangs from the ceiling. The sweetgrass diffuses the light from above, spreading it evenly down the room. The artifacts are hung amongst the grass. Viewers are encouraged to feel the sweetgrass, tie it, knot it, weave it. As time passes and as more people alter the field of sweetgrass, the result is a new texture and pathways for people to view the baskets. Much like the charred sweetgrass on the walls, the viewers have left a lasting imprint on the exhibition space."

(Instructor: Tei Carpenter)


Jianning Lv

Jianning writes: "The gesture of this architecture looks like something is emerging from the dark underground, which symbolizes all the powerful truth and stories of Indigenous peoples that have been forgotten and hidden, and that now want to be seen and heard. Accessible roofs together with conical podiums that grow up onto the roofs make it convenient for people to view the artifacts even if they don’t enter the culture centre. This forms a welcoming gesture for reconciliation. To control light, the design introduces not only light wells, but also solid-translucent-transparent materials. The building is designed to create a journey from darkness to brighter spaces, which symbolizes the wish for a brighter future."

(Instructor: Tei Carptenter)


Lucas Siemucha

Lucas writes: "The form of the museum is defined by a series of rigid boxes that protrude through a skin-like roof. The pairing of rigid and organic components is a direct reference to the tectonics of a birch-bark canoe, an early exploration in this studio. Each box houses a specific program, arranged in a manner that simulates the organic experience of canoe travel. The rooms are layered with a semi-transparent material that obscures the appearance of the artifacts contained within. This gesture forces visitors to discover and learn about the artifacts found in each room in an intimate manner."

(Instructor: Tei Carpenter)


Farah Aldaghestani

Farah writes: "Music and dance are integral to Haudenosaunee culture. They shape the Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Dance is the act of healing, communication, and bringing of people together. The design of the Woodland Cultural Centre cherishes ceremonial dances and acts as a medium for captivating sensorial interaction. The visitor follows the movement of the round dance, which is one the most famous dances. The dance is counter-clockwise, and switches in the middle to clockwise, representing positive and negative things in life. This twist, along with the choreography of space, lighting, scenery, and materiality, produces a unique 'space perception.'"

(Instructor: Tom Ngo)


Nada Al-Obaidi

Nada writes: "Earthy material investigations inspired by the strong relationship between Indigenous civilizations, the land, and the traditional craft of pottery making inspired a project driven by material behaviour and the method of model making. Designing a process rather than a final product lent a significant portion of the design authorship to the possibilities of material tectonics. In response to the site conditions and program requirements, voids were cast around dry clay blocks to generate imprints of the surrounding lands and create surprising interior environments. The design approach and the resulting aesthetics respond to the painful cultural history of the building site and propose a new reality that is sensitive to the land and its material culture."

(Instructor: Tom Ngo)


Jeremy Chow

Jeremy writes: "The Kahado:t challenges the container imposed on ordinary exhibitions by exploring sunken, open-air rooms that allow artifacts to breathe. The enclosure serves as a medium of storytelling through a variety of finishes on surfaces facilitated by fluid and formless concrete. Cones inspired by pine trees have triumphed over the space and provoke a meandering visit in the forest, which differs from the linear occurrence in the dominant pedagogies. By continuing the existing row of trees on site, the museum signifies the restoration of friendship and peace forever, as suggested in the Two Row Wampum."

(Instructor: Adrian Phiffer)


Sam Shahsavani

Sam writes: "My research and project started with Lorna Thomas-Hill’s strawberry beadwork container, a magnificent artifact made out of five red fabric panels that are meticulously sewed together. Looking for elements that could reflect the container’s materiality, I replaced the fabric and thread with soft metal mesh and metal wires to experiment with different structural and material conditions, in order to create an oval-shaped exhibition space for the strawberry beadwork container."

"During the second half of the semester, I decided to start experimenting with the different ways I could utilize eggs and egg crates to form a museum space. In my last set of experiments, I used my rectilinear mould and egg crates to form and define the boundaries of my structure and used different sized eggs to define the 'figure' that houses the primary exhibition spaces within my structure."

(Instructor: An Te Liu)


Liam Caldwell

Liam writes: "Like the Haudenosaunee longhouse, this project imagines the Woodland Institute as a single elongated space. The visitor enters and processes through the space, undergoing a series of turns and distortions meant to alienate them from the spatial logic of the residential school site. A distorted version of the longhouse serves as the framework for the concrete structure. After it is removed, all that remains is its textured imprint upon the walls. At four points throughout the building, guests are reoriented using windows that are cut according to the cardinal directions, which allows for views across the sculpture garden and into adjacent arms of the building."

(Instructor: An Te Liu)