Indigenous architecture firm helps design wellness centre
DIALOG and Two Row Architect are collaborating on the Seneca Polytechnic project.
A rendering shows the design of a new health and wellness centre. – DIALOG
- The design team includes Indigenous design firm Two Row Architect to incorporate Indigenous architectural form.
- The team plans to include green building practices, including mass timber, rainwater harvesting, solar energy, geothermal energy, renewable building materials and green roofing.
- Demolition of current facilities is slated for winter this year, with an estimated building completion in 2026.
The Whole Story
The architects say the project will be infused with Indigenous design, sustainability and inclusion.
Drawing inspiration from the medicine wheel, the health and wellness Centre will be a destination for students and employees to support their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
On the pre-design of the building, Seneca is working with DIALOG, an integrated design practice, and Indigenous design firm Two Row Architect to incorporate Indigenous architectural form.
“The Health and Wellness Centre will be the heartbeat of Seneca,” said Erik Skouris, Two Row Architecture, design lead. “The outcome of this circular design signifying a drum demonstrates that the Centre will provide a holistic healing approach within the lives of the students based on Indigenous ways of seeing, understanding and being in the world that extends beyond the mere act of drumming.”
Established in 1992 by principal Architect Brian Porter (OnΛyota’a:ka), the name Two Row Architect was chosen to reflect the unique nature of the firm. The firm is a 100% native-owned business operated from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation and Tkaronto.
Skouris explained that many teachings across Turtle Island use the circle to represent balance and equality, wholeness, and connection. The circle is unbroken and made of equal, connected and infinite points.
“The Creator is at the centre of the courtyard, around which all living things – including students, engage,” he said. “All programs radiate from this centre and have a special and direct connection to it. The drum voices our connection to all creation when we move and strengthens our bonds to each other when we drum together.”
Seneca’s vision is to transform the decades-old Sport Centre at the east end of Newnham Campus into a dynamic multi-storey health and wellness complex that includes traditional medicines, counselling, recreation and varsity sports facilities. The centre will also incorporate a new home for the Seneca Student Federation (SSF).
Funding for the Centre is coming from Seneca, the SSF and the Student Athletic Association (SAA). The SSF and SAA contributions have been funded through capital fees contributed by students over many years.
According to the school, the centre will represent the next phase of development at Newnham Campus, complementing the award-winning LEED Gold-certified Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, known as CITE, and the award-winning Odeyto Indigenous Centre.
Landscaped outdoor space surrounding the Centre will provide opportunities to engage with nature. Highlights include a central drum courtyard with fire pit, an extensive arrangement of native plants and trees, regenerative forest, earth mounds and a teaching and leisure rooftop terrace.
The team plans to include green building practices, including mass timber, rainwater harvesting, solar energy, geothermal energy, renewable building materials, green roofing, and designing for resilience and operational sustainability.
Subject to approval by the provincial government, demolition of current facilities is slated for winter this year, with an estimated building completion in 2026.