NATUS • CULTUS • CIVIS: A Holistic Community Plan for the Beausoleil First Nation
Dopheide, Samantha JoAnn
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Sustainability is not a contemporary concept, rather it was a guiding principle all cultures lived by to maintain balance with the natural world and more importantly survive. Evidently architecture was a tangible expression of a way of life as indigenous people developed place specific vernacular that adapted to various climates, exploited local raw materials and created comfortable living conditions that were responsive as much to the inner environment of culture and social interaction as they were to the external environmental forces. Natus • Cultus • Civis explores the significance of place in developing a contemporary sustainable architecture and the potential for a new and authentic regional expression rooted in a relationship between the knowledge, technologies and traditions of Native and Euro-Canadian people. These two distinct models of vernacular reveal considerable differences in the worldviews of the people they represent but together they offer a rich source of sustainable strategies and dynamic responses to the diverse environmental conditions of Canada. Situated within a context plagued by imposed and often problematic Eurocentric models and furthermore isolated on Christian Island in Georgian Bay, Ontario, the Beausoleil First Nation community has fallen victim to unemployment, substance abuse, distressing high school completion rates and a disappearing cultural identity. The residents recognize the need for a community plan and are committed to nurturing and protecting resources in a sustainable manner in addition to creating opportunities for economic growth and cultural nourishment. As such the thesis culminates in a holistic community plan and the design of a learning centre, to be developed in collaboration with the Beausoleil First Nation, which aspires to empower the community economically and culturally. Rooted in the discussion of sustainability, region and tectonics, the learning centre will be designed by referencing local vernacular traditions, exploring new technologies and encompassing the contextual landscape, history, culture and climatic conditions of the site.