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Toronto ON


Seneca College


Addition / Renovation


Completed 2019


1800 sf


In Partnership with Gow Hastings Architects

A home away from home for Indigenous students to gather, not only to practice their traditions but also to find new friendships and family while away from their communities. The design was inspired by the image of a canoe pulling up to a dock, making a stop to gather knowledge before continuing on life’s journey. The structure alludes to the Haudenosaunee longhouse and also incorporates aspects of traditional knowledge drawn from many other Indigenous cultures. The angle of the canoe lines up with the rising sun on summer solstice to acknowledge rebirth, spring, and our connection to earth in alignment with sunrise ceremonies. Design features, influenced by traditional knowledge, also include cultural observances, value of materials, tactility, craft, expression of structure, and extension into the surrounding landscape. These elements constitute a space that is immediately recognizable as Indigenous, and can educate and inform visitors about Indigenous culture, inspiring them to want to learn more.

​The warm womb-like interior consists of two distinct spaces. A work area where students can use computers, work with tutors or speak to a counsellor. The main lounge is a generous space for all kinds of gatherings.The twenty-eight glue-laminated ribs resemble the ribs of a canoe or mammal. The number is a nod to the number of days in one cycle of the moon.The Indigenous staff of Seneca have named the space Odeyto (an Anishnawbe word meaning ‘the good journey’ or ‘the journey to the urban’), symbolic of the journey Seneca Indigenous students take to the college from their communities.”

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