CANADA. Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15

CANADA. Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15
Venice Biennale 2014. [VEN] Italy
CANADA. Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15. Photo © Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy of Biennale di Venezia 2014
'Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15' is Canada’s national exhibition at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia. It is organized and curated by Lateral Office of Toronto. The main aim was to carry out an experimental design practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urbanism, in Nunavut district located in the north os Canada.

Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15, which means “our land”, is Canada’s newest, largest, and most northerly territory. It separated from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 following a hard-fought land claims agreement established in 1993.

Today, there are almost 33,000 people living in 25 communities across two million square kilometers, making Nunavut one of the least densely populated regions in the world. These communities are located above the tree line and are not connecting by roads. The climate, geography, and people of Nunavut, as well as the wider Canadian Arctic, challenge the viability of a universalizing modernity.

Following the age of polar exploration in the 20th century, modern architecture encroached on this remote and vast region of Canada in the name of sovereignty, aboriginal affairs management, or trade, among others. However, the indigenous Inuit people have inhabited the Canadian Arctic for millennia as a traditionally semi-nomadic people. Inuit relations with Canada have been fraught with acts of neglect, resistance, and negotiation. Throughout the last 100 years, architecture, infrastructure, and settlements have been the tools for these acts. People have been re-located; trading posts, military infrastructure, and research stations have been built. Some have described this rapid confrontation with modernity as more