Gerin-Lajoie, Guy (2017) Fabricating a Northern Vernacular, IN Many Norths: Spatial Practice in a Polar Territory, edited by Lola Sheppard and Mason White, Actar Publishers, pp. 158-163

Keywords: architecture and designNunavutsustainability

Architect Guy Gerin-Lajoie is interviewed about the buildings he designed in Nunavut during the 1970’s. Projects discussed in detail include the Nakasuk Elementary School, Igloolik Research Centre, and Gordon Robertson Educational Centre.

Gerin-Lajoie states that the southern models used for buildings in the Arctic up until 1967 were not cost effective or beneficial to the Inuit communities’ labour markets (p. 158). Instead, he explains how fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) panels used in his projects alleviated shipping, building and construction costs as well as enlisted local labour. (p. 159). For instance, the panels are lightweight which helps reduce shipping and handling costs and “is an advantage for construction on permafrost soil or muskeg” (p. 159). Further, the Nakasuk Elementary School project employed Inuit workers to construct 75% of the panels locally (p. 159).

Gerin-Lajoie’s building designs also factored in harsh climatic conditions such as high winds and snowdrift accumulation into the their designs: rounded corners, flexible panels, bolted waterproof joints, windproof skins, etc (p.160). He further discusses the types of foundations that can be useful for building in the fluctuating environmental conditions of the North (p. 161).