Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects + Urbanistes
The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is designed to be a specific and sustainable response to the building’s unique context – the unusual Canadian desert found south of the Okanagan Valley in Osoyoos, British Columbia. Sited adjacent to a remnant of the Great Basin Desert, this interpretative centre is part of a larger 200-acre masterplan. Nk’Mip is the first of a number of new B.C. aboriginal centres, and part of a growing trend to explore the expressive potential of architecture to convey the rich past and the transforming future of aboriginal culture. The building is innovatively designed, featuring the largest rammed earth wall in North America.
The jury found this project to be a powerful, intelligent, and simple architectural statement. The design incorporates a traditional rammed earth wall in an innovative way and thereby creates a strong signature for the building. The project balances many current technologies with key elements of traditional technologies to tie the architecture to its physical and cultural location.
The sourcing and use of the local Blue Pine, which is not used commercially (due to business vs. technical reasons), was well thought out and suited to this application. The careful selection of sustainable materials and technologies all support the cultural and artistic objectives of the facility. Reduced water use, 100% natural ventilation and green roofs all support a larger project mission.