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Xthum Kwantlen Gathering PlaceLEARN MORE

  • Client

    Kwantlen Polytechnic University

  • Completion


  • Budget


  • Size

    115 m²

  • Location

    Surrey, BC

  • Awards

    2011 Canadian Interiors Magazine Best of Canada Award, 2011 Twenty + Change Exhibit, Official Selection Award, 2010 AIBC INNOVATION AWARD, 2010 Interior Design Institute of BC ‘Best In Show’ Award, 2010 Interior Design Institute of BC Gold Winner, Public

A group acting on behalf of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen and Katzie Nations asked Public to design a multipurpose space within an existing classroom building for celebrating, feasting, storytelling, counselling, advising, studying, and relaxing.
Our process started with a search for solutions to the project’s biggest constraint: the program was too big for the 25’x30’ space provided. Our solution anchors flexible zones of occupation around a fixed kitchen and fireplace element. Defining these zones is a ceiling/wall-scape that obscures references to the original former classroom; ceiling datums, corners and existing windows are draped and concealed. A new skylight and exterior entry provide connections to the sky and forest nearby.
We felt a contemporary construction and fabrication methodology would resonate with students who are nomadic by nature: studying at all hours, eating when convenient rather than in traditional meal times, and technology enabled. A google search for “first nation blog,” for example, yields more than a million results. The project is both an exploration of digital design and output media, and a dialogue between First Nation culture and the formal language of contemporary architecture. Xthum is a Hul’qumi’num word meaning basket and drum.