Nuu-Chah-Nulth Home

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Location: Tofino
Completed: 2014
Architect: David Wong
Area: 2,950 sq ft
Home for a growing family
Heritage and cultural traditions are enjoying a resurgence throughout many Indigenous communities. The embracing of languages, histories, and traditions have facilitated an awareness of 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 in Tofino to design a prototype home that allowed for flexible housing, and respectful to the region's rainforest, and cultural heritage. A goal 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. Much of this knowledge may be applied using today's materials and techniques.

A Nuu-chah-nulth family engaged DW|SSA in the design of their new home. An important goal was to source local materials– the use of cedar, locally milled wood, and the application of traditional knowledge, including spatial relationships (e.g. a place to clean and store salmon), colours, cedar weaving and wood finishing (adzing).

The home was designed with pitched roofs and overhangs to protect and to shed off the westcoast rains. The main roof faced the south/ south-west for solar panel placements. Also designed were provisions for rainwater collection and a natural ventilation plan to encourage air movement (helps mitigate moisture, mould, and mildew issues). National Geographic magazine prepared an article on the Nuu-chah-nulth conservation economy and profiled this home.