The advantage of the Northern regions in this period of COVID-19 comes from the fact that they’re isolated. There are no roads or railways that link Nunavik (where we’ve done a lot of work) to southern Quebec (where we’re based). That makes the Inuit communities that live in the North very sensitive to the precariousness that accompanies their isolation, but also greatly resilient.
For instance, the Katittavik Cultural Centre we designed in the northern village of Kuujjuarapik is currently closed and 2020 programming has been cancelled. The village authorities we spoke to recently, however, tell us that they are thinking of new ways to use this multi-functional room, with its variable geometry and retractable seating system, to ensure that physical distancing will be the norm for a long time to come.
The situation is the same in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, where Polar Bears International House, an interpretation centre we completed in 2019, is currently closed but is also being repurposed. In the longer term, the impact of COVID-19 will also be felt in the interior design of several seniors’ residences currently underway in Nunavik and Nunavut.
Marc Blouin and Catherine Orzes co-run Montreal-based Blouin Orzes Architectes, which has been designing projects in Canada’s North for two decades.
How remote Northern regions are weathering the crisis.