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Team Canada: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

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Xululabs, Xululabs

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Team Canada: University of Calgary

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Canada’s entry—TRTL (pron. “turtle”), an acronym for Technological Residence, Traditional Living—was inspired by the culture of the First Nations People of Southern Alberta. The house’s rounded form, east-facing entrance, and south-facing windows invoke the traditional tipi and honor the sun as a traditional source of life. More importantly, the house was a response to many critical housing issues faced by many native groups in Canada. For example, the envelope consists of a locally produced, magnesium-oxide-based structural insulated panels. “The material is highly fire- and mold-resistant, which are both prevalent issues on the reserve,” says Kim Gould, a recent civil engineering graduate of the University of Calgary. “Rates of death by fire on reserve are more than 10 times the national average in Canada.”

Collaboration with the native people was central to the process, Gould says. “That influenced everything from the shape of the house to the materials to the paintings on the ceiling canvas.” The team kept costs down by simplifying the construction strategy—but not by building cheaply. “We decided it was not worth it to skimp on our envelope or structure,” she says. Savings were achieved by choosing easy-to-use appliances and simple lighting. More than a million native people live in Canada, and many of them endure substandard housing conditions, Gould says. Which is why the team is hoping that TRTL will be a prototype that will be replicated in many First Nations communities. “If you’re going to spend all this time and effort, why not try and tackle a major social housing issue?”

Estimated cost: $286,051.31
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