UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Indigenous architecture through indigenous knowledge : dim sagalts’apkw nisiḿ [together we will build a village] Stewart, Patrick Robert Reid


The purpose of this research was to find out how the culture of an Indigenous architect informs their practice of architecture. The research for this dissertation was motivated by Indigenous Elders responses to my architectural design work as an Indigenous architect. This is the first known research in Canada that privileges the use of Indigenous Knowledge in the design process by Indigenous architects. The results of this research will inform the future education of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in architecture and their practice within the profession. The research was based on an Indigenous methodology of respect, reciprocity, redistribution, relevance, reflection, relationship and responsibility. Conversations with nineteen Indigenous architects from Turtle Island, Australia, Cihuatan (El Salvador) and Aotearoa (New Zealand) were recorded, transcribed with content analyzed. They self-identified their culture and its influence on their design work. They assessed their time in architecture school and proposed changes that would assist schools of architecture attracting Indigenous students into the faculty. The conversations were enlightening in what they did not reveal about the use of Indigenous knowledge in design. Though some of the architects employed Indigenous knowledge in their design process, surprisingly many were not so obvious. There may be many reasons for this, the impact of colonization perhaps the most significant. There was however a general attitude that schools of architecture could do more to attract and retain Indigenous students in their programs. This is significant if universities are truly to embrace cultural competency in an increasingly global economy.

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