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Queen’s University Indigenous Gathering Space

Smoke Architecture Inc.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

September 2023


Eladia Smoke (Principal Architect), Jennifer Kinnunen (Architect)



Queen's University


Francis Fougere


The complementary landscape works with existing topography and paths to achieve full accessibility to the nearby Indigenous learning suite in Mackintosh-Correy Hall. An existing service road is transformed into a pedestrian experience naturalized with indigenous plantings and lined with informal outdoor learning and seating areas. Smoke Architecture collaborated with landscape architects Vertechs and Indigenous-led SpruceLabs to weave Indigenous principles back into the landscape, and with engineers Arup to reinterpret the bentwood precedent of the wakaaiigan.The space can be entirely enclosed or fully opened to the four cardinal directions using insulated rolling overhead doors. The curved glulam frame and enclosure of cedar over bent ribs celebrates the warmth and flexibility of wood, while daylight from above connects the realms of sky and earth. Entryways are positioned facing east and west, denoting the rising and setting of the sun.


The Indigenous Gathering space at Queen’s University is an outdoor classroom inspired by the wakaaiigan | teaching lodge, a bentwood frame clad in wiigwaas | birchbark. This precontact form has been used for knowledge sharing from time immemorial to the present day in Anishinaabeg territories. There are many teachings embedded in our pre-Contact architectural forms that were brought into the space with the hope that is of use to anyone who teaches, learns, or shares knowledge in the space.


The space has provided a place for the students of the University to embrace indigeneity and traditional ways of learning. Since its awakening ceremony in September of 2023, the Indigenous studies department has been able to hold classes in the space and embrace the traditional learning styles they have sought for.

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