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New Architecture on Indigenous Lands

2013
Authors:

Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands

Tribal architecture gets back to its Native roots—and becomes something new

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands takes readers on a virtual tour of recent Native building projects in Canada and the western and midwestern United States. With close attention to details of design, questions of tradition, and cultural issues, and through interviews with designers and their Native clients, it provides an in-depth introduction to the new Native architecture in its many guises.

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands is a ground-breaking study of a largely unrecognized new genre in contemporary North American architecture. The authors have taken on a subject that until now has not been critically studied or celebrated in the architectural press, except in very limited terms. Perhaps most importantly, the book recognizes not only the extraordinary new works of architecture just beginning to transform reservation communities, but also the importance of making that transformation.

Daniel J. Glenn, AIA, NCARB, Principal of 7 Directions Architects/Planners

Black Elk speaks of the “square boxes” his people were forced into, and Winona LaDuke of the “boxes of mints” on Native lands. As long as the government was deciding what tribal buildings should look like, Native custom and culture were bound to be boxed in—or boxed out. But in the post-1996 era of more flexible housing policies, Native peoples have assumed a key role in the design of buildings on tribal lands. The result is an architecture that finally accords with the traditions and ideas of the people who inhabit it.

A virtual tour of recent Native building projects in Canada and the western and midwestern United States, New Architecture on Indigenous Lands conducts readers through cultural centers and schools, clinics and housing, and even a sugar camp, all while showing how tribal identity is manifested in various distinctive ways. Focusing on such sites as the Tribal Council Chambers of the Pojoaque Pueblo; the Zuni Eagle Sanctuary in New Mexico; the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Center in Osoyoos, British Columbia; and the T’lisalagi’law Elementary School, Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka offer wide-ranging insights into the sensory, symbolic, cultural, and environmental contexts of this new architecture.

With close attention to details of design, questions of tradition, and cultural issues, and through interviews with designers and their Native clients, the authors provide an in-depth introduction to the new Native architecture in its many guises—and a rare chance to appreciate its aesthetic power.

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands

Joy Monice Malnar, AIA, is associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Frank Vodvarka is professor of fine arts at Loyola University Chicago. They coauthored The Interior Dimension: A Theoretical Approach to Enclosed Space and Sensory Design (Minnesota, 2004).

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands is a ground-breaking study of a largely unrecognized new genre in contemporary North American architecture. The authors have taken on a subject that until now has not been critically studied or celebrated in the architectural press, except in very limited terms. Perhaps most importantly, the book recognizes not only the extraordinary new works of architecture just beginning to transform reservation communities, but also the importance of making that transformation.

Daniel J. Glenn, AIA, NCARB, Principal of 7 Directions Architects/Planners

Tribal reservations are perhaps the last bastions of what one could call the ‘contemporary frontier.’ It must now be acknowledged that a critical mass of native practitioners have been paving the way for design that is informed by community consensus and which contains the mnemonic aspects of their cultural identity. This book is 20 years overdue.

Ted Jojola, University of New Mexico

Libraries that support architecture programs will find this book to be an excellent addition.

Art Libraries Society of North America

New Architecture offers many fascinating anecdotes drawn from the long history of encounters between native tribes and Euro-Americans. With its beautiful photography and insightful commentary, there is much here of great interest to both architects and fans of architecture. Perhaps the book’s introduction says it best: “These are buildings worth knowing about.”

Community Reporter

A welcome addition to the growing body of literature devoted to the importance of the arts as a means of cultural expression and revitalization for indigenous peoples. A worthy volume that deserves attention from both the scholarly crowd and the lay public.

Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change

The true value of this book lies in its extensive testimonies regarding best practices. Those who have worked in the field understand the myriad of non-standard procedures related to design, consultation, and approval. The authors have done their research, balancing it with the necessary historical, legal and economic framework.

The Canadian Architect

The authors quote tribal members and architects with an emphasis on the direct links between stakeholders’ cultural values and design decisions. The focus is on the aesthetics and functionality of the architecture as it relates to, or is derived from a particular people or group of peoples.

Tribal College Journal

That "tribal groups are clearly communicating their cultural needs and values to designers who are listening" is the thesis of this work by Malnar and Vodvarka. Over ten chapters, the authors examine the cultural lifestyles of indigenous communities through new architecture, using 56 projects as case studies. Each chapter delves into indigenous architectural history, and meetings held with tribal members as part of the design process.

Choice

Overall, the book is successful in that it breaks new, academic ground for Indigenous architecture within the ongoing conversation about mainstream architecture. In addition, Malnar and Vodvarka rely on Native American studies scholarship, in many cases the work of Indigenous scholars, to support their argument.

First American Art Magazine

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands

Contents

List of Projects
Acknowledgments

Introduction: Making Sense of Architecture

1. Design Alternatives
2. A Northwest “Cook’s Tour”
3. Architectural Expressions of Culture
4. New Places of Learning
5. Iconic Design Parameters
6. Central Plains Images
7. Southwest Identity and Traditions
8. The Pueblos of the Rio Grande Region
9. Cultural and Sustainable Housing
10. Forming Indigenous Typologies

Notes
Index

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands

UMP blog - Cultivating culturally responsive architecture while designing for modern needs

Two questions emerge: What is the cause of this uneven progress? And, how, as seen in the examples presented in our book, did some tribal groups overcome the negative aspects of their situation to make progress? The causes, as one might imagine, are numerous and complicated. In the U.S. there are 564 tribal entities and in Canada there are more than 630 First Nations, eight main Inuit tribal groups, and five Métis governance structures. One fundamental view often noted by Native American scholars is that most of the treaties were not honored except for the parts that removed North American tribes from their homelands. In The Nations Within, Vine Deloria, Jr., and Clifford M. Lytle point out that it is “important to understand the primacy of land in the Indian psychological makeup, because, as land is alienated, all other forms of social cohesion also begin to erode, land having been the context in which the other forms have been created” (12). Thus any solution must, in the first instance, be land-based. But that alone is insufficient.

Read the full article.