Somba K'e Civic Plaza
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Photo Credit: CSLA
Research by: Samantha Miller
Edited by: Nicole Brekelmans
Case study compiled in 2019
Project: Somba K'e Civic Plaza
Type of Urban Strategy: Indigenous
Type of Project: Civic Park Revitalization
Location: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Date Designed/Planned: 2008
Construction Completed: 2010
Designer: Nadji Architects & Lombard North Group Ltd.
Somba K’e Civic Plaza was created in collaboration between Nadji Architects and Lombard North Group Ltd., on the site of a vacant field on the shores of Frame Lake. This project is an excellent representation of urban design that uses social and community engagement in the design process to work towards fulfilling the desires of the affected communities. The new plaza is now used for hundreds of events, through all seasons- giving the community a place to gather and celebrate their culture and progress as a city. The designers were sure to incorporate elements of design inspired by Indigenous history, specifically relevant to the history of the site and the communities who inhabited the land for many years prior. The indigenous inspired design gives the community a strong sense of place to retreat to while the City of Yellowknife continues to grow and move forward. Through the application of sustainable design principles, the designers were able to create a year-round gathering space, that responds to the desires of the community for more sustainable development. The city of Yellowknife’s senior administrators view the new plaza as ‘a jewel in the heart of the city’ (Nadji Architects, 2018).
The design for the plaza aimed to develop a place for civic functions on a vacant field that is situated in front of the Yellowknife City Hall in downtown Yellowknife on 49 Avenue. The vacant space is approximately 10,750 sq. ft., located on the shores of Frame Lake, which provided opportunities for lakefront views and waterfront seating. Due to its location to the water, the Somba K’e Park is now a point of entry into the Northwest Territories park system (Nadji Architects, 2018).
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
GOAL OF THE PROJECT
DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS
After discussions and feedback from the community about what kind of space the city needs and the desires of the citizens, Lombard North Group partnered with Nadji Architects who were leading the project. The teams then developed a long-term phasing plan, which included a plaza, open gathering space, an amphitheatre and waterfront access (Lombard North Group, 2013). Previous conversations and discussion groups with the communities highlighted a need for community space that highlights the indigenous culture and a push for sustainable developments.
ROLE OF DESIGNERS
Somba K’e Park | Spectacular Northwest Territories. (2019, March 05). Retrieved from https://spectacularnwt.com/attraction/somba-ke-park
GENESIS OF PROJECT
The City of Yellowknife has been working towards bettering the lives of its residents and slowly moving the city into smart technologies and sustainable practices. Yellowknife is known for its extraordinary skies, being the tourism capital of the Canadian north, community connectivity, and for having a replicable framework for northern innovation (City of Yellowknife, 2019). The project responds to the desire of the citizens of Yellowknife to have increased and safer access to the waterfront, as well as a need for better gathering space and park environments.
The City of Yellowknife invested approximately $3.2 million in the development of this major capital project. This investment included funding for the civic plaza lawn area, general landscaping and green planting, upgraded play structure, the development of a trail system, day use area and amphitheatre, and the installation of the Gerry Murphy commemorative arch (City of Yellowknife, 2008).
MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE
The City of Yellowknife Public Works and Engineering department manages and maintains the site. The department manages most operations and maintenance programs of municipal services and capital work programs (The City of Yellowknife, n.d.).