UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Turning the museum inside out : place and placemaking at Esowista Midgley, Christopher


"TURNING THE MUSEUM INSIDE OUT details a process of development that the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation might follow in building into an expansion area granted by the Government of Canada near the reserve community of Esowista. The sensitive nature of the surroundings inspires an overall approach to community design that is dedicated to preserving or enhancing the health of existing ecosystems. To support this approach, a set of sustainable community design principles are proposed, and large scale strategies are identified. This project then narrows in focus to emphasize specific structures and processes associated with sustainable design in a remote setting. A fundamental aspect of sustainable design that has been given particular prominence in this project relates to the intertwined notions of authenticity and placemaking. For the purpose of this project, sustainable design refers to the structures and processes that foster an intimate and regenerative relationship between the landscape and the community, and that promote self-sufficiency. There are three main reasons behind urging for self sufficiency at Esowista: cost savings; development of local skills in design, engineering, and construction; and the inherent connection between self-sufficiency and self-determination. Embedded in this definition of sustainable design is the importance of the relationship between people and the place they call home. An authentic relationship between people and place relies on meaningful inhabitation. Meaningful inhabitation, in turn, hinges on participation in the community and with the environment (both natural and built), which together yield a deep rootedness in place. For many generations, governments in Canada have weakened the relationship between the Tla-o-qui-aht and their territory by preventing participation of this sort. The participatory process of making a community provides an opportunity to invigorate the relationship between the Tla-o-qui-aht and the place they call home. The first step in considering the process of making a community became to design a works yard and construction centre. There, the future community is planned, machinery and tools are held and maintained, and timber taken from the land is transformed into the homes (or other structures) themselves. Additionally, at this construction centre, various skills ranging from construction practices, wood working, and first aid to traditional skills such as carving and weaving are learned. Out of this centre the community is built and as it is built, skills improve, residents and labourers become artisans, and the community as a whole takes on a unique identity. As the process unfolds, the community itself, as a place built intimately and artfully into the landscape by its residents, becomes a source of inspiration for its residents. This brings us back to the beginning, and the title of this project: Turning the Museum Inside Out. While a museum is conventionally thought of as a building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, exhibition, and interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value, here the museum is considered as it was originally named. The word 'museum' comes from the Greek word 'muse" referring to the spirit of inspiration, and '-eum' which literally means 'seat', but refers more generally to 'a place that one occupies'. Thus, in its original inception, a museum is simply a place of inspiration. With this understanding, the museum as an identifiable storehouse of artefacts is obliterated, and re-emerges, turned inside-out, as the community itself. The artefacts are the components with which the community is built, the relationship between the people and the place they have made, and the capacity to continue the process of placemaking into the future.

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