Kinngait ( ᑭᙵᐃᑦ), formerly known as Cape Dorset, is situated on Dorset Island at southern tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut. The location is rocky, exposed, and windswept. The literal translation of Kinngait from Inuktitut is “high mountain”, or “where the hills are” – statements that reflect the dramatic realities for this community of 1,400 inhabitants.
The Kinngait (meaning: Mountains) Health Centre is one of the first in the eastern artic communities to provide a Mental Health Safe room environment, providing safety and comfort to those in need. The facility has a specialty design TB unit, new and improved Clinics, maternity, child and adult treatment, diagnostic and emergency care spaces, as well as a variety of outreach community services. Steps away from the existing Facility, the new building blends into the rocky terrain while maximizing healing views to the beautiful landscape of the Foxe Bassin. It features artwork for local artists as part of the interior finishes while conforming to the latest of health care standards in facility layout, infection prevention control and safety issues.
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Kinngait Health Centre
Institutional Architecture (Built)
Parkin Architects Limited
Kim Kennedy, Design Architect
Cédric Du Montier, Designer • Don Dimanlig, Designer • Richard Huot, Technical Designer • Taraah DenBoer, Interior Designer • Hilary Giroux, Designer/Interior Designer
©Gerry Kopelow Photographics Inc.
The design of the Kinngait Health Centre (KHC) is centred around several themes, all of which are meant to appropriately support staff and community members in realising effective healthcare. These include:
Southern institutional buildings typically attempt to signal a distinction between their forms and the built environment within which they are found. The northern consciousness sees all elements of the world to be interrelated and without hierarchy. The creation of situations and buildings which are “separate” can cause discomfort and alienation within an Indigenous consciousness. The form of the KHC purposely took inspiration from the simple vernacular architecture of the community to signal its harmony with its built surroundings.
Understanding its Surroundings
Kinngait’s topographical and geological setting makes it very difficult to impose an orthogonal signature onto the urban form. Straight lines are seen as a southern construct. Kinngait is one of the few arctic communities where the grid has been defeated by its environment. Connecting paths and roadways follow the rock and contours. Due to the topography, community members can view the KHC from the base of town, from above and from all around. Early in the design process it was agreed that every attempt would be made to create a 3-dimensional building that could be viewed and appreciated from all sides. The design attempts to minimise the notion of front and back, top and bottom. This intent is made manifest through a number of initiatives including the use of roof materials that become siding, and by breaking orthogonal elements through the use of a free form entrance.
The Use of Colour
An important element in delivering an approachable building that is reflective of cultural and environmental realities, is colour. Colour schemes took inspiration from a number of sources including predominant hues common in many local artistic prints, graffiti sprayed on adjacent buildings, and the colour displayed by the labradorite found in much of the local geology and which is reflected in the building’s curvaceous entrance piece.