A culturally significant complex for the Cree Nation
The Regional Hospital Centre of Eeyou Istchee is set to be seven times the size of the region’s current hospital; a facility that dates back to 1980. Along with developing a complex that would better serve the surrounding population, it was of the utmost importance that architects come up with an inspired and respectful concept that would highlight the Cree community’s values. Standing at a little over 20,000 m2, the complex will house 52 beds and be organized into three major sectors: The hospital care section will be home to the ambulatory activities, diagnostic, and therapeutic services as well as hospitalization, clinical, and administrative support; the prevention and social services section will house the Chisasibi Community Miyupimaatisiiun Centre, dental care, and youth protection services; and the public and common areas like the pharmacy, reception, and cafeteria will make up the third.
The architectural concept—which derives inspiration from the shapes of various culturally significant indigenous symbols—is first expressed in the hospital’s main entrance, an expansive multi-storey mezzanine in the shape of a traditional drum. From the outside, the rounded envelope of the building becomes a landmark visible from afar. Its panoramic, window-laden envelope is embellished with wood ornamentation, crowned by roofing materials reminiscent of a drumskin. Creating an impression of openness and grandeur, the threshold between the interior and exterior has been deliberately blurred. At the other end of the hospital, the entrance to the site’s community center takes the distinctive form of a teepee; its massive wooden structure rises skyward with an overhanging roof, creating a sense of refuge, recalling a forest’s canopy.
Meeting the needs of the nine communities in the Eeyou Istchee territory, this new regional hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and serves as a model for the design of spaces that harmoniously combine healthcare and social service environments with the culture and traditions of the Cree Nation.