Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society Workshop

Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society (PI/KHS) is an Inuit-led charitable organization in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, Canada. Its primary objective is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage and language of Inuinnait, a regional group of Inuit located in the Central Canadian Arctic. PI/KHS works to document and protect the traditional knowledge, language, and cultural practices of Inuinnait so that future generations can inherit and maintain the enduring connections between their people, knowledge, and land.

Williams Engineering (WE) was retained to provide structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering services for a new building called Kuugalak, which will house a cultural workspace for PI/KHS’ Elders and programming. This building will be part of a larger cultural campus in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, providing the community with highly customized learning and program space while enabling PI/KHS to expand from the May Hakongak cultural centre, where space is limited.

WE was initially retained by the Green Building Technologies Access Center (GBTAC) Applied Research and Innovation Services at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to provide consulting and advisory services.

The design of the building’s super structure and envelope consists of Structural Insulated Panels (SIP). The SIP panels on this project were selected by GBTAC and were manufactured by ZS2 technologies which have many benefits over traditional panels. The building is supported by built-up wood beams on a screw jack and a wood footing foundation designed by WE to accommodate permafrost soil conditions. The SIP system was selected for its performance in the harsh northern climate and its ability to be shipped as a partially constructed building material. The structural design also incorporated a sizeable wrap-around deck for the building.

The mechanical design of this building incorporates best practices for Northern facilities. It includes the use of heat recovery ventilation systems that bring in fresh air while recovering heat from outgoing air, effectively reducing energy loss. The plumbing system is designed with freeze-resistant features, such as an insulating pipe drainage system and heat trace and incorporates efficient water-saving fixtures. Furthermore, the design incorporates northern-specific features, such as an internal water storage tank, external sewage tank, and fuel oil tank. The design incorporates perimeter hydronic radiation to minimize thermal losses and in-floor heating for enhanced thermal comfort.

Electrical design is similarly best on best practices for Northern communities. Special electrical design considerations for this project involved working with the unique architectural shape of the building, efficient use of limited utility spaces, and integrating raceways within structural panels while allowing for building sustainability, resiliency, and space flexibility. Coordination was accomplished with the local electrical utility and the local photovoltaic contractor/consultants for a roof and awning-mounted solar generation system. The solar generation system is to be initially grid-tied with provisions for the future addition of a battery storage system.

Construction on site began in the spring of 2023, with the majority of construction to occur in the fall of 2023 once construction materials arrive by sea-lift to the community.

The new building in Cambridge Bay will provide PI/KHS with a space to expand its ability to carry out various activities, programs and courses which will benefit the community while contributing to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Inuinnait for current and future generations.