Canadian High Arctic Research Station seeks art designs
Proposals should reflect “ingenuity of Inuit culture”
CAMBRIDGE BAY — While construction teams continue to work on the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, architects want to ensure the inside of its main science building honours “the timeless creative genius of the Inuit.”
That’s according to a document on CHARS art integration from the architects at FGMDA/NFOE, which staff presented last week to mayors from the Kitikmeot region as well as to elders from the Kitikmeot Historical Society.
When you’re inside the huge 50,000-square-foot building, set to open in July 2017 in time for Canada’s 150th birthday, you’ll walk on original artwork set into the floors and look up to see art hung on the walls and from the ceilings, on glass-screens and in display cases.
A call for proposals for designs is set to go out shortly, with artists invited to draw their inspiration from the past and present “ingenuity of Inuit culture” using such creations as the ulu, qulliq, qajaq and qamutik, the architects’ document says.
The CHARS architects want to translate Inuit ways of doing things — “not simply in the past but as they have evolved over time” — into the building.
The Kitikmeot Heritage Society has already proposed and received a commission for elder sewers to work on a three-piece wall hanging called “A stitch in time.”
Artists will also be invited to submit design proposals for glass privacy screens — large three-dimensional works to be displayed in a case and hung from on the ceiling — and images, using colours with names like “sandbox,” “barbecue,” “heatwave,” “Clydesdale” and “hayride”, which will be set into the floors, similar to those on the floor in the Kuujjuaq airport.
A committee, with members including the Kitikmeot Heritage Society’s executive director, Pamela Gross, will help select the winning art designs.
According to the architects’ plans, the outside of the CHARS buildings will be mainly copper-coloured to reflect the heritage of the Copper Inuit of the region and be designed around the curved spaces of large qaggiq snow houses.
Announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012, CHARS will cost $142.4 million to build, $46.2 million to ramp up and then, from 2018-19 onward, it will receive $26.5 million a year to operate.
Science, high-tech and climate change research will guide CHARS, which also plans to make room for traditional knowledge.