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Kwanlin Dun, also known as Miles Canyon, is a culturally and historically rich region with a gorgeous - and fierce - natural landscape. For years, this First Nations community has lacked a central building from which their government and administrative staff can serve and connect with their community members and with communities across Yukon. 


Our diverse group of stakeholders includes not only the employees and future occupants of the Kashgêk' Building but the community residents and Elders of Kwanlin Dun. The building, it was determined, would reflect the culture and history of the Nation and bring the administration and government operations under one roof, while creating employment opportunities for community members. The sustainability and flexibility of the structure was also prioritized by the stakeholders and design team. That the centre be adaptable and responsive to its environment, as well as its tenants, was a central objective of the project vision.


We took architectural inspiration from the basalt columns that form the edge of the Kwanlin Dun, or Miles Canyon. In the concept design, the hexagonal columns that conform to the edge of the building’s atrium reflect the history and culture of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation while also serving the practical purpose of forming a dynamic curtainwall that floods the interior with daylight. The hexagonal shape is repeated throughout the building in places of special importance, such as the Elders’ lounge and Healing Room. Our architectural intention was to create spaces that balance aesthetics, purpose, and cultural expression to create a pleasant and inspiring user experience. 


Through our collaborative workshop sessions, we developed a holistic design that effectively amalgamates the building’s component parts: the spaces, envelope, program, systems, and site. The strategies that we implemented include intelligent space design to maximize daylight and promote passive ventilation, an energy-efficient envelope, use of high-efficiency LED lighting where necessary, minimized site lighting, rainwater collection for landscape irrigation, and the use of durable and renewable materials. 

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