The Puyallup Tribe’s NE Longhouse Apartments, “Place of Hidden Waters,” has been selected for inclusion in the international architectural exhibition Venice Biennale this May. The Venice Biennale is a bi-annual exhibition in Venice, Italy in which 72 countries from around the world represent their best architects. Up to 300,000 people are expected to attend this year. Also this year, Canada is acknowledging indigenous architects of North America and invited U.S.-based and Native owned architectural firm 7 Directions to take part, which is the firm that designed the Tribe’s Longhouse complex, awarded the 2012 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Project of the Year.
“We bring our experience with Native communities into our processes and use that as a tool to help Native people build better infrastructure because we haven’t had the opportunities to build our communities the way we want to,” said 7 Directions architect Kim Deriana (Mandan & Hidatsa).
Canada Council for the Arts has selected internationally renowned architect Douglas Cardinal and a team of indigenous architects to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale. Douglas Cardinal is best known for his designs of the Canadian Museum of History and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Titled “Unceded: Voices of the Land,” Canada’s entry at the Venice Biennale will showcase 18 indigenous architects from Turtle Island (Canada and the USA) to represent the two nations at the Venice Biennale. Together with Douglas Cardinal they will showcase their innovative design talent through what will surely be an immersive and breathtaking installation that will bring an indigenous voice to the world’s premiere forum for architecture.
Since its inception in 1980, the Venice Architecture Biennale continues to be the most important and prestigious exhibition in contemporary architecture. Daniel Glenn (Crow Tribe), principal at 7 Directions, calls it “the Olympics of architecture.” On Feb. 16 he was at Place of Hidden Waters with other 7 Directions architects and a film crew from Canada to shoot footage of the Longhouse project for the Venice Biennale and for a feature length documentary on the indigenous North American architects involved in the exhibition.
Puyallup Tribal Councilwoman Annette Bryan was there to welcome them, as she is former director of the Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority and worked closely with Daniel Glenn back when the Longhouse additions and remodeling were taking place.
“It’s such an honor to be able to share this beautiful affordable, culturally relevant, LEED Certified housing project with the world,” she said. “We are very proud of developing a project that aligns with who we are as Puyallup people.”
Also there to greet the visitors were current Puyallup Nation Housing Authority Executive Director Sonny Matheson; Denise Reed, a member of the Housing Board of Directors and Culture Department; the Tribe’s Culture Director Connie McCloud; and Clinton McCloud, also from the Culture Department. Together they drummed and sang a welcoming song for the guests before embarking on a tour of the property.
“We use this often to learn from for our new projects so I like for our new staff to come and learn too,” Daniel Glenn said. “For me this whole project from the beginning has been a real honor. Annette was amazing in pulling everyone together to make it happen and as we say in architecture, ‘You can’t make great architecture without great clients,’ and you all were wonderful clients.”
As Annette led the tour, she spoke of all the amenities that Place of Hidden Waters offers to its residents and the tribal community including the gymnasium that’s perfect for all kinds of uses, the indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pit for gatherings, sweat lodge, vegetable gardens planted and maintained by the tenants, the kitchen where nutrition classes are held, the gazebo where powwows are held, and more. “We really have become a place where the community comes together,” she said.
To learn more about the Venice Biennale, visit www.unceded.ca.