Set against a rocky Arctic setting, a bold silhouette complimenting the surrounding low mountains of the Qikiqtaaluk Region, the Grise Fiord Hamlet Office & Community Hall Complex is an inviting form in an environment that has one of the harshest climates of any in Canada. The extreme environmental conditions and necessarily constricted methods of construction became part of the fundamental design issues from the outset of this project. The design challenges were tri-fold: a building that could be constructed in permafrost; an ultra high-performance building envelope to withstand the local climate; and the design of a facility that would house both the Hamlet Office and a new Community Hall to provide a community social space for Canada’s most Northerly civilian community.
These design demands were compounded by construction constraints of the site which included a once-per-year sealift method of delivering all construction materials and the logistical challenge of housing workers in a temporary camp. The new building is designed to replace the existing Hamlet Office and consolidate it with a new Community Hall in order to satisfy the need for a space for the community to come together in both large and small groups for meeting and sharing. In addition to the required office spaces, designated leasable spaces to stimulate the local economy were included in the design. The tenant space is currently being occupied by the local Hunter’s and Trappers Association and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Much of the design of the building was driven by the intention to efficiently contain the large volume of the Community Hall and smaller volumes of the office spaces within a durable and cost effective building. One strategy that was employed to reduce costs as well as building maintenance, was to exposed the structure throughout the building. Significant consideration was made in the public areas of the facility for opportunities for the community to display local art and artifacts to celebrate their heritage — display cases and display walls of cork board with glass standoffs line may of the walls of the building in these areas. The spectacular views of the site are showcased through the use of abundant glazing looking out to the sea and over the surrounding town for those working in the offices and up to the imposing mountains when viewed from the Hall.