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Global Indigenous Architecture: 4 Ways That Buildings Enable Culture

Global Indigenous Architecture: 4 Ways that Buildings Enable Culture

According to a New Zealand researcher, the University of British Columbia’s First Nations Longhouse offers lessons in cultural rebuilding, a valuable tool for the emerging field of indigenous architecture in Australia and New Zealand.

Marina Lommerse asserts that the forced dislocation from community, language, land and beliefs through colonization policies has dispossessed cultural identity – a condition shared by indigenous peoples worldwide. She cites four main ways that UBC’s Longhouse starts the process of cultural rebuilding through the built environment. The categories originate from Carole Krinsky’s Native American Architecture: Cultural Regeneration and Creativity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996):


  1. Paraphrases

This isdefined as the ability to translate a traditional essence in new ways. The traditional structure of the Longhouse is evident, specifically the pole and beam, curtain wall, and shed style roofline.

  1. Symbolic Forms

These are the cultural symbols expressed in diagrams or zoomorphs. Here it can be seen by the buildings reference to the cardinal directions as well as its carvings on the doors, beams and posts.

  1. Embodiment of Values

The incorporation of values is illustrated in the Longhouse by the egalitarian principles of spatial arrangements, for instance, the students and staff sharing a lounge.

  1. References to Nature

This category has been described as reflections of wildlife or the shape, color, form of landscape. In this case, the cedar decks reference the traditional boardwalk, while the wild flowers and a small waterfall remind the visitors of the importance of the natural surroundings.

For Lommerse’s full paper, please click on the following link:

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