The First Nations Centre for Youth

Alyssa Haas & Nadine Vroom | Comprehensive Studio 2013

Thomas Debicki | Faculty Supervisor



The First Nations Centre for Youth Creativty and Engagement is a community-based facility designed to provide a space for the creative expression, cultural empowerment and reconnection to heritage for the growing Aborignal youth population in Calgary. The Aboriginal youth population is the fastest growing population in Calgary, as is the case in many other Canadian cities. Consequently, with many Aborignal youth moving to and living in urban centers, such as Calgary, many are feeling increasingly disconnected from their Aborignal culture, heritage, practices and community. In an attempt to address this disconnect, the First Nations Center for Aboriginal Creativity and Engagement strives to reconnect urban Aborginal youth to their culture by providing a collaborative space for creative engagement and practices with members of the greater Aboriginal community.
The 3000 m2 Centre features indoor and outdoor theatre spaces, flexible dance and drama studios, flexible craft studios, painting facilities, digital technologies space, an interactive library and music spaces.
The Centre is located along the south bank of the Bow River, nestled between the intensely urban landscape of the Calgary downtown core directly to the East and an ever-lively Crowchild Trail to the West. Further, the newly constructed Sunalta train station is located to the south of the Centre, therefore further contributing to the urban flows surrounding the site. The area surrounding the Centre is slated for redevelopment under the recently introduced Area Redevelopment Plan for the West Village community, which calls for mixed use development, public boulevards, green spaces and a rich pedestrian network, therefore promising a vibrant, bustling and energetic urban setting for the new First Nations Centre for Youth Creativity. The design for the Centre endeavours to celebrate the urban nature of the site, deeply integrating itself into the fabric of the surrounding community. The public nature of the design for the Centre invites a reciprocal conversation between cultures and promotes interaction at all levels between the activities taking place within the community and those taking place within the Centre.
Formally the design for the First Nations Centre for Youth Creativity and Engagement predominantly consists of two fluid, sweeping roof gestures which come together at a central zone before breaking apart again and dispersing back out into the landscape. The flowing roof structure, as articulated by several strip channels running parallel to one another, is representative of the fluidity inherent in life, from the flows of natural systems, to the interactions of people across cultures, time and place. Given the conceptual importance of the roof structure, the roof design became a driving force for the remainder of the design decisions within the project. The vision for the internal environment therefore was one promoting a sense of transparency, fluidity and lightness. As the Centre promotes connection to culture, people, place and landscape, and hopes to inspire creativity and connection to cutlure for Aboriginal youth, it was imporant to create an internal space which echoes the same fluidity, continuity and dynamism as represented in the roof system.