“Ssik”, Moh-Kins-Tsis Center for Indigenous Culture, is a design proposal for a new University of Calgary campus building. Ssik, Blackfoot for fracture, acknowledges the story of Indigenous people in Canada. Since the arrival of European colonization, Indigenous people have endured a dramatic upheaval from their lands and community. Despite the intense suffering, Indigenous people in Canada have achieved major accomplishments and made significant contributions to the country. Ssik aims to provide a place that properly tells the story of the scars and accomplishments of all the Indigenous in Canada. These scars, deep and hidden, are dramatically expressed as gashes in the landscape. The building subtly crosses over the scars and wounds in the landscape, stitching it together and providing a space for healing and community engagement. The building, like many Indigenous people, carries the scars of suffering, however it provides a path for healing and growth.
As we are currently living in the Anthropocene period; an epoch where human intervention has greatly disrupted climate, ecological, and other environmental systems, it is important to design a building that goes beyond sustainable architecture. The effects of civilization and globalization on the planet have become more prevalent and we have become more aware of how mankind has altered the environment. The building aims to have as minimal an environmental footprint as possible, respects the connection aboriginals have with the landscape and teaches their valuable lessons. The building design itself is based on integrating passive design strategies and the built form with its natural environment in order to take advantage of some of the site qualities. With its complex systems the building has the possibility to live off the land much like the aboriginals did, managing its own, water, waste, heat and electricity. The landscape is manipulated in order to be more integrated with the design concept. The Fracture creates an architectural experience that brings people, culture, and landscape together in unity.