Carleton Hosts Design Seminar with Douglas Cardinal

On Thursday, March 24, eager participants gathered at 1125@Carleton to discuss Aboriginal housing design and how Aboriginal values extend well beyond Indigenous communities with Canadian architect and master builder, Douglas Cardinal.

Cardinal was on hand to discuss his Earth- and people-centered approach to architecture. He was accompanied by architect and consultant Bill Semple of NORDEC Consulting & Design, who is also a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta.  Following presentations, participants were given an opportunity to discuss with the panelists and ask questions about how to incorporate the concepts into their own work in Indigenous communities.

The full-day event was organized by Integrative Solutions Group (ISG), green building consultants with the goal of advancing collaborative design processes through consulting, networking, training and education.

The presentations from Cardinal and Semple centered on a common theme about the importance of collaboration, communication and creating relationships throughout the design process in order to create effective and sustainable designs for Aboriginal communities.

Semple has worked with a variety of Indigenous communities ranging from Tibet to Canada’s North and has created structures reflecting their unique values and lifestyles.

Although many different Indigenous cultures have similar values and beliefs, Semple said each community has unique needs and a unique identity and in order to learn about these needs, the community must have the opportunity to get to know you and to share their opinions with you.

“What you hear on the street, in little rooms, in informal conversations, will teach you more than anything you will learn in a formal meeting,” remarked Semple.

Cardinal talked about the importance of evolving buildings around people’s needs and how they function in their spaces.

“Without any preconceptions, I evolve a design from the inside out, open to all possibility,” he said.

All life is connected, he emphasized, and a thriving community also requires a focus on nature.

“Human beings are the most powerful on the planet because we have the gift of creativity. We are powerful beings with the power to create beautiful things, but we also have the power to destroy everything on the planet too. We have to be responsible (with) this gift of power,” said Cardinal.

“When we plan for the future generations to thrive on our lands, we must also plan for the future of all living beings that share the land with us.”