A Home for a First Family

Heritage and cultural traditions are enjoying a resurgence throughout many First Nations communities. The embracing of their languages, histories and traditions have facilitated an awareness of some past building traditions and methodologies.

Ecotrust Canada, UBC's Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing, and David Wong, Architect worked with the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples in Tofino to design a prototype home that allowed for flexible housing, was wise to the regions's record rainfall conditions, and most important, be respectful to the indigenous people's cultural heritage. A goal of the effort was to engage the Nuu-chah-nulth in the design of their new homes, with knowledge from their elders. Historically, buildings were constructed in response to the region's climatic and geographic conditions… and much of this knowledge is inspiring and may be applied using today's materials and techniques.

A Nuu-chah-nulth family engaged David in the design of their new home. The design of this home was based on the earlier prototype house prepared by David Wong Architect. An important goal was to source local materials, including the use of cedar, locally milled wood, and the application of traditional knowledge and skills– including spatial relationships (e.g. a place to clean and store salmon), colour palettes, and crafts such as cedar weaving and wood finishing such as adzing.

The home was designed with generous pitched roofs and overhangs to protect and to shed off the heavy westcoast rains. The main roof faced the south/ south-west for ideal solar panel placements. Also designed were provisions for rainwater collection and a natural ventilation plan to encourage air movement to help mitigate moisture, mould, and mildew issues.

National Geographic magazine (click link) prepared an article on the Nuu-chah-nulth people and their Conservation economy which also profiled this home.