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2008 Governor General’s Medals
in Architecture

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre

Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects (Vancouver, BC)
Lead Design Architect: Bruce Haden, MRAIC

The Nk’Mip Desert Culture Centre is a dramatic and sustainable response to its unique context - the Canadian desert south of the Okanagan Valley in Osoyoos, British Columbia. The building features indoor and outdoor exhibits that honour the cultural history of the Osoyoos Indian Band and are designed to be an extension of the remarkable site.

The project’s ambitious approach towards sustainable design includes features such as the largest rammed earth wall in North America; the use of blue-stain pine; a habitable green roof; in-slab radiant cooling and heating; careful water-use management; and research space for the endangered rattlesnake.

Jury Comment:

This very strong yet entirely discreet cultural centre becomes a site museum – one which innovatively re-presents the locale’s desert earth in the form of an insulating rammed-earth wall. Although very large, the chameleon-like wall defines an ambiguous threshold between landscape and building and positions the partially buried auditorium and exhibition room with strategic orientation. These intimate spaces seem to be defined by a tamed earth and sky rather than walls and ceilings.

Anne Cormier

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photos: Nic Lehoux
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