Niitsítapi Cultural Centre

Sean Kimak & Gabriel Hernández Solano | Comprehensive Studio 2013

Alan Collyer | Faculty Supervisor



Taking into consideration the vast diversity among the First Nations people of Canada we decided to focus on the Blackfoot people, native to Alberta and surrounding regions. Niitsítapi is the term the Blackfoot people used to refer to themselves.

During our investigation we identified TWO main cultural determinants that became crucial in informing our design decisions.
I. The blackfoot people were nomadic
unlike classical wesTern civilizations which left behind massive construtions and monuments, the blackfoot people only left behind subtle traces or suggestions of previous inhabitation.this nOmadic lifestyle is characterized by constant movement between PLACES OR points, unfettered by systems of organization. This notion of existing between places or points becomes just as important as being in the places themselves. This will become evident, particularly in how we dealt with circulation.
II. The importance of integration with nature and the landscape
As a result of these two we came up with the following design statement:

“The Niitsítapi Cultural Center represents the traditional Blackfoot lifestyle by becoming ‘nomadic architecture’, informed primarily by nature, context, and informal circulation.

To do so, the conventional design approach is inverted. Exterior spaces are designed and emphasized first, before extending inward to form the interior landscape, a place to exhibit, promote and nurture the Blackfoot culture.”