The Unknown Land

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The Speech from the Throne that opened the 39th Parliament of Canada included the following two sentences: “Our Government will build a world-class Arctic research station that will be on the cutting edge of Arctic issues, including environmental science and resource development. This station will be built by Canadians, in Canada's Arctic, and it will be there to serve the world.”  These sentences initiated a process of design and construction that culminated in the opening of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in
Ikaluk­tutiak (Cambridge Bay), Nunavut. As mandated in the Speech from the Throne, this facility is a world-class Arctic re­search station, demonstrating state of the art design excellence that serves as a model for similar polar facilities around the world.

EVOQ Architecture & NFOE in joint venture
Alain Fournier
Alan Orton
Carolyne Fontaine
Deirdre Ellis
Neil McNulty
Isabelle Laurier



Station Manager:
Polar Knowledge Canada

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The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) was built as part of Canada’s Northern Strategy. The design and fundamental personality of the CHARS tangibly and visibly constitute a major break away from the old scientific research station model in Arctic communities. The CHARS brings Traditional Science and Technology and Traditional Inuit knowledge to work together under one roof. The architecture (planning and design) of the Station reflects and makes possible this new paradigm. While CHARS will make an international statement on Canadian research in the Arctic, it will also be an architectural representation of Inuit culture to ensure full integration into the community of Ikaluktutiak.

Architecture is a powerful means of cultural expression. Both the process leading to the design and the design of the station itself are derived from a number of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) principles “that which has always been known by Inuit”. The Inuit planning principle of free, open, interconnected spaces is used in the layout of the public spaces. The circular shaped qalgiq (traditional communal igloo) used inside and outside, takes on both physical and symbolic presences. The exposed wood structure conveys the ingenuity of the many Inuit designed, stick built assemblies. The copper-coloured cladding is a nod to the Copper Inuit, the host community.