HOOP Dance Indigenous Gathering Place

Hamilton, Ontario

Photo Credits: ArchDaily

CASE STUDY

Initial Research by: Evan McPherson

Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2019

 

 

Project: HOOP Dance Indigenous Gathering Place

Type of Urban Strategy: Indigenous 

Type of ProjectIndigenous Resurgence

LocationHamilton, Ontario

Date Designed/Planned: 2015-2016

Construction Completed: 2016

DesignerBrook McIlroy

 

Located on Mohawk College campus, the HOOP Dance Gathering Place demonstrates how Western institutions are beginning to invest and recognize the importance of Indigenous placemaking and pedagogy in an academic setting. The project was developed through a collaborative community consultation process, driven between faculty, students, Indigenous students and elders from Six Nations First Nation and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Communities. Brook McIlroy worked with these stakeholders to develop a holistic design with intended efforts to integrate site context and surrounding geographies.

 

CONTEXT


The HOOP Dance Indigenous Gathering Place is located between H-Wing and A-Wing in a terraced courtyard on Mohawk College campus, in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. An inclusive community consultation process was undertaken and lead by Brook McIlroy throughout the design phase. The Indigenous Gathering Place is the second project Mowhawk College has undertaken to develop the relationship between the College and Indigenous groups. Each project is thought of respecting the Two Row Wampum, one of the oldest Treaties between Indigenous people of North America and Dutch settlers in 1613.




FUNDING


The projects total cost was $650,000. Three groups contributed to funding efforts, Mohawk College, Mohawk Students Association and a private donor (Fragomeni, 2016).




SITE ANALYSIS


Mohawk College was founded in 1966 and was named after the highly acclaimed Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant. The college was one of the first examples of a technical college where classes could be attended in the evenings. The site for the Gathering place is located in the centre of the college campus inside one of the main courtyard quads. At the time of construction, this was one of the only examples of Indigenous space making within the core of an educational institution in Ontario (Mohawk College, n.d.).




THE CHALLENGE


Engaging with many community stakeholders and groups to create a public space that has shared meaning for all involved.




GOAL OF THE PROJECT


Construct inclusive public space that reflects the college’s attitude towards reconciliation with Indigenous groups and fostering these partnerships for better future relationships.




GENESIS OF PROJECT


Located on Mohawk College campus, the HOOP Dance Gathering Place

demonstrates how western institutions have created and recognized the importance of Indigenous placemaking and pedagogy in an academic setting. The project was developed through a collaborative community consultation process, driven by faculty, students, Indigenous students and elders from Six Nations First Nation and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Communities. Brook McIlroy worked with these stakeholders to develop a holistic design with intended efforts to integrate site context and surrounding geographies.

The HOOP dance gathering space is defined with a circular form, a direct symbol from First Nations culture. The intention was to create a place for gathering, “teaching, music, story-telling, ceremony, relaxation and contemplation”. A wooden shading structure creates a sense of enclosure through the use of an abstracted and deconstructed Iroquian longhouse housing type. This domestic structure was traditionally built using different layers, including framing and a woven or thatch wall, this detail is referenced in the project with the light wooden members forming the dynamic veil that drapes across the frame. It is clear there is historic symbolism imbued throughout the entire project from form to fabrication. However, with such symbolic and traditional intentions, the logs were prepared to look hand finished and shipped all the way from the West Coast, British Columbia.

Situated around the structure is a series of four elements: a fire circle, water garden, traditional garden and Seven Sisters garden. The intention is to create a welcoming space that acknowledges all, respecting past, present and future. Each element has direct symbolism attached to it. The structures radiating circular rings are aligned and set at a variety of angles, all aligning to solar noon. By placing the columns on these diagonals, there is a perceived sense of motion and a reference to the animate nature of being, another reference to Indigenous culture. The top of the structure is held together by a large metal ring, symbolizing the medicine wheel which is oriented towards the true north direction. One of the most unique aspects is the use of 13 metal rings that adorn the top. These rings symbolize the 13 moons. After daylight, these rings are lit with light. Alaskan Yellow Cedar was chosen due to its strength and longevity. Each pole was tapered and finished by hand. The complete wood construction allowed the structure the ability to assemble off-site, reducing construction time.




DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS


The project was developed through a collaborative community consultation process, driven between faculty, students, Indigenous students and elders from Six Nations First Nation and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Communities.




ROLE OF DESIGNERS


Manage and engage in the consultation workshop process.




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


The ceremonial gathering place was designed with the ability to hold approximately 60 people within the shading structure area. Within the centre is a small fire for gathering around. The area surrounding the structure contains a series of small gardens. Each garden has a connection to Indigenous culture and is a resultant of the collaboration between community and designers. The gardens include the Water garden, the Seven sisters garden, and the Traditional garden.




PROJECT IMPACT


The project has been celebrated by the community and the college, with the impact of the project highlighting the importance of Indigenous placemaking as an act of reconciliation. Indigenous students (of which there are approximately 400) on campus review the space as a welcoming sign and movement towards progress.

(Mohawk College, n.d.)




MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT


The project is maintained by Mohawk College. The designers placed longevity at the forefront of the design decision process, this is one reason why imported Alaskan Yellow Cedar was chosen, for its structural integrity and durability.




CITATIONS


Fragomeni, C. (2016). Hoop Dance gathering place at Mohawk College offers hope. [online] TheSpec.com. Available at: https://www.thespec.com/news-story/6733753-hoop-dance-gathering-place-at-mohawk-college-offers-hope/ [Accessed 9 Mar. 2019]. (https://www.mohawkcollege.ca/indigenous-students/our-spaces/wampum-belt)





 

EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

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