As sesquicentennial celebrations unfold, it is important not to overlook Canada’s pre-Confederation and first nations heritage. This experiential design undertaking is aimed at strengthening ties between the Canadian Government and the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan. At the heart of this history is a land dispute, the source of inspiration for Form Media’s core concept. Our parti focuses on two opposing methods of landholding: a thoughtful linear and river-oriented allotment by a semi-nomadic turned agrarian people versus an unnatural grid-based system imposed on one nation by another. Herein lies a testimony of a land that follows from non-issue to conflict, through an entente to a formal collaboration between a First Nation and a government.
The focus for the project is Lot 47, the location of the once thriving village of Batoche. Form Media’s design seeks to tell the story of this place, considered the heart of the Métis nation. The Métis are descendants of those born of indigenous and European peoples. Rather than imposing numerous and frequent insertions, Form Media unites this expansive cultural landscape through the delicate placement of four conspicuous elements, with minimal intervention and a light footprint as key goals. A simple mowed/burned strip reinforces the linearity and direction of the river lot. Structures are raised up on piles to reduce impact on the site. Robust materials—weathering and galvanized steel, cedar, and stone—minimize maintenance and evoke themes of permanence.
Efficiency pervades the details, best demonstrated by innovative batten joinery developed to significantly reduce the size and quantity of fasteners. The distinct seigneurial river lot land division plays a role throughout, from the spacing of berry rows to the organization of the overall site. The wooden panel system is also rooted in another reference to Métis culture: the weave of the ceinture fléchée sash.
Form Media Design/Build Team: John deWolf (Principal in Charge [EGD], Project Manager, Lead Designer), Adam Fine (Interpretive Planner), Sahsina Chitrakar (Interpretion Designer), Natalia Ultrémari (Graphic Designer), Edward Vella (Graphic Designer), Genevieve McIntyre (Project Manager [build]), Jean Lanteigne (Engineering Technologist)
Ekistics Planning & Design Partner Team: Chris Crawford (Principal in Charge [architecture]), Julien Boudreau (Project Designer), Thomas Evans (Intern Architect), Matt Kijewski (Intern), Rob LeBlanc (Principal in Charge [landscape architecture]), Devin Segal (Lead Landscape Architect), Justin Neufeld (Intern Landscape Architect), Derek Hart (Civil Engineer Technician)
Ekistics Planning & Design (architecture/landscape architecture), Skyline Atlantic Canada (fabrication/installation coordination), SweetCroft Engineering Consultants Ltd. (structural engineering)
Skyline Atlantic Canada (interpretive panels and wooden liners), Elance Steel Fabrication Co Ltd. (steel fabrication), Mennie Design & Build Ltd. (landscape and interpretive panel installation)