Batoche National Historic Site

Batoche National Historic Site

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Storyboard on the landscape

As sesquicentennial celebrations unfold, it is important not to overlook Canada’s pre-Confederation and first nations heritage. This experiential design undertaking is aimed at strengthening ties between the Canadian Government and the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan. 

At the heart of this history is a land dispute—the source of inspiration for our core concept. Two opposing methods of landholding: a thoughtful linear and river-oriented allotment by a semi-nomadic turned agrarian people versus an unnatural grid-based system imposed on one nation by another. Herein lies a testimony of a land that follows from non-issue to conflict, through an entente to a formal collaboration between a First Nation and a government.

A National Historic Site of Canada since 1923, this 955 hectare property is an impressive landscape in a setting of aspen forest and remnant fescue prairie. The focus for our project is Lot 47, the location of the once thriving village of Batoche. Our design seeks to tell the story of this place, considered the heart of the Métis nation. The Métis are descendants of those born of indigenous and European peoples. 

Rather than imposing numerous and frequent insertions, we unite this expansive cultural landscape through the delicate placement of four conspicuous elements. Minimal intervention and a light footprint were key goals. For example, a simple mowed/burned strip that reinforces the linearity and direction of the river lot. Structures are raised up on piles to reduce impact on this archaeologically sensitive site. Robust materials—weathering and galvanized steel, cedar, and stone—minimize maintenance and evoke themes of permanence. Efficiency pervades the details–best demonstrated by innovative batten joinery developed to significantly reduce the size and quantity of fasteners.

The distinct seigneurial river lot land division plays a role throughout, from the spacing of Saskatoon berry rows in the to the organization of the overall site. The wooden panel system—a structure to provide support, a trope to represent the river lots—is also rooted in another reference to Métis culture: the weave of the ceinture fléchée sash. The interpretation supports a sense of pride by honouring both the pre- and post-battle story. Together with modern building forms and materials, the conviction of a thriving Métis culture is reinforced.

As a team of multiple professions, the synthesis of method, process, and workflow of our colleagues enriches our designers. For example, our architects and landscape architects think not only of the natural/built environment, but consider interpretation and graphic details as part of their interdisciplinary design process. This is an account of disciplines collaborating to use the landscape not merely as a setting, but rather as a lead character. 

Parks Canada’s goal is for an architecturally interesting, one-of-a-kind, and interactive design that incorporates historically significant themes and activities of Batoche. Parks wished to use this project as a bridge to allow a landscape scarred by resistance to tell a story of a thriving culture, to create a destination, and to reestablish ties. Through design, we hope to honour the Métis story and to improve cultural relations.

STATUS

2015 - Design
2016 - Build

Type

Interpretive planning & design, architecture, landscape architecture

CLIENT

Batoche National Historic Site, Parks Canada

http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/sk/batoche/index

LOCATION

Batoche, Saskatchewan

AWARDS

2017
Azure AZ Awards - Experiential Graphic Design, People's Choice
Azure AZ Awards - Experiential Graphic Design, Award of Merit 

2017
Society of Experiential Graphic Designers (SEGD) - Global Design Awards, Finalist

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LOOKING BACK  One panel introduces the early days of Batoche; another tells how this former wintering area became a chosen place to put down roots.

LOOKING BACK
One panel introduces the early days of Batoche; another tells how this former wintering area became a chosen place to put down roots.

VIEWING PLATFORM SECTION  Stairs allows access to the first chamber (stage East), where a vertical opening directs the visitor’s gaze back to the viewing lens along the cutline.

VIEWING PLATFORM SECTION
Stairs allows access to the first chamber (stage East), where a vertical opening directs the visitor’s gaze back to the viewing lens along the cutline.

STAGE  The view planes are purposeful: ahead (stage West) is obscured by the second steel chamber; to the north are the remains of Batoche’s East Village.

STAGE
The view planes are purposeful: ahead (stage West) is obscured by the second steel chamber; to the north are the remains of Batoche’s East Village.

VIEW PLANES  Far from overt, the three ‘stages’ of the platform respect the Metis’ relationship with the land by providing views to the land (North and East), water (South and West), and sky.

VIEW PLANES
Far from overt, the three ‘stages’ of the platform respect the Metis’ relationship with the land by providing views to the land (North and East), water (South and West), and sky.

FOUNDATIONS  All that remains of the village are foundations and cellars. The rail allows the visitor to engage in imagining these buildings in the landscape.

FOUNDATIONS
All that remains of the village are foundations and cellars. The rail allows the visitor to engage in imagining these buildings in the landscape.

TIMELINE  The chamber celebrates a thriving culture. A 5.3m timeline starts at the floor, and projects skyward to suggest “forevermore” and an infinite future.

TIMELINE
The chamber celebrates a thriving culture. A 5.3m timeline starts at the floor, and projects skyward to suggest “forevermore” and an infinite future.

MÉTIS FLAG  The Métis flag is an infinity symbol on blue, representing the unity of two cultures, and faith that the Métis culture shall live on forever.

MÉTIS FLAG
The Métis flag is an infinity symbol on blue, representing the unity of two cultures, and faith that the Métis culture shall live on forever.

Wooden slats with battens at 45° not only provide structure, but also reference the ceinture fléchée, the traditional sash of the Métis Nation.

Wooden slats with battens at 45° not only provide structure, but also reference the ceinture fléchée, the traditional sash of the Métis Nation.

FAMILY GARDEN  The family garden is organized within a swath of Saskatoon Berry hedgerows, set in 2m increments they form a scale representation of the Métis river lots.

FAMILY GARDEN
The family garden is organized within a swath of Saskatoon Berry hedgerows, set in 2m increments they form a scale representation of the Métis river lots.

TRADE ROUTE PLAYGROUND  The trade route playground is another dimensional map that demonstrates how goods and people would have moved between communities across the Canadian Northwest.

TRADE ROUTE PLAYGROUND
The trade route playground is another dimensional map that demonstrates how goods and people would have moved between communities across the Canadian Northwest.

TRADITIONAL MÉTIS RECIPES  Evocative of 18th and 19th century posters— intended to be photographed and shared via social-media—panels provide modern recipes for 19th century Métis meals.

TRADITIONAL MÉTIS RECIPES
Evocative of 18th and 19th century posters— intended to be photographed and shared via social-media—panels provide modern recipes for 19th century Métis meals.