This socio-architectural project to create an Arctic Food Network (AFN) in Canada’s high arctic territory of Nunavut is a model to overcome the dependence of the Inuit community on expensive processed food products imported from the south. These foods have compromised the traditional diet centered on hunting and gathering of food provided by nature across a yearly cycle. The project responds to thorough research on the poor living conditions and health of the Inuit, and on the calendars, regional ecologies and transportation networks that are highly influenced by nature and tradition in these specific and extreme climatic and geographical conditions. The project intends to secure mobility between the scattered Inuit communities, allow a better distribution of local foods and serve as a series of bases for the reinforcement of traditional hunting – while also establishing new foundations for a sustainable, more independent economy.
Snowmobiles using their pre-existing trails provide the only feasible form of ground connection. To accomplish this network, a series of small hub facilities is introduced along the tracks, acknowledging the Inuit tradition of temporary enclosure in a cold climate. These multi-functional structures provide shelter but also act as data transmission centers, ecological management stations, and cultural centers which help to integrate the Inuit community internally and externally. The modest structures respond to local conditions, whether the site is on land, water/ice or the tidal fringe. Construction is based upon easy-to-assemble modules that also utilize abundant materials on site: rock aggregate and snow/ice.
Comment of the Holcim Awards jury North America
The jury praised the project for bringing an overlooked issue to the table, and providing a stunning solution with an impressive value-added return on the resources invested. An attentive contextual response is demonstrated in all dimensions of the project, based upon thorough research and the participation of the community.
The entire strategy up to the design responds to the landscape, climatic and site conditions, and includes purposeful interventions which are integrated without any grand gestures or expensive structures. Instead they bridge between the traditions of the Inuit and the expectations of the young generation thereby providing an opportunity to create an improved future. The project is also highly transferable to other arctic regions, and its basis in terms of overall attitude and mood has even broader applicability.