Kwantlen’s Aboriginal Gathering Place awarded for outstanding architectural design

Tue, May 18, 2010

 Adopting an innovative design process and modern construction technology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s newly finished Aboriginal Gathering Place has received two architectural awards from prestigious industry bodies. 

For its use of a variety of woods and innovative architectural design, Kwantlen’s new aboriginal student gathering facility earned the 2010 BC Wood Design Award in the Interior Beauty Design category from the Canadian Wood Council. In addition, described as a physical representation of a dialogue between First Nations culture and modern architecture, this multi-purpose study and social space received the 2010 Innovation Award from Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) in recognition of its digitally-driven design process as well as the contemporary fabrication methodology. 

Gathering PlaceEntitled Xthum, a Hul’qumi’num word that means “basket and drum,” Kwantlen’s Aboriginal Gathering Place aims to create a warm and inviting gathering place for all students – a space that supports the social and educational activities associated with attending Kwantlen Polytechnic University in an environment that recognizes the important contribution of the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Katzie, and all other Aboriginal Nations. 

With a clear direction to create a space tailored to students, while building on the university’s aboriginal roots, the design of Kwantlen’s Aboriginal Gathering Place anchors flexible zones of occupation around a fixed kitchen and fireplace element. Defining these zones is a ceiling/wall-scape that obscures references to the original former classroom; ceiling datums, corners and existing windows are draped and concealed. A new skylight and exterior entry provide connections to the sky and forest nearby. The contemporary construction and fabrication methodology resonates with students who are nomadic by nature: studying at all hours, eating when convenient rather than in traditional meal times, and technology enabled. 

The Wood Design Awards bring together people from various sectors to celebrate leadership and innovation. The Awards also serve as an opportunity to publicly recognize and encourage continued excellence in the building and design community and in the forest industry. For more information, visit: 

The AIBC's annual juried awards, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Awards in Architecture and the AIBC Innovation Awards, recognize member firms, lead architects, and clients who have achieved excellence in completed architectural projects. For more information, visit: 

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