The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is designed to be a specific and sustainable response to the building’s unique context—the unusual Canadian desert found in the South Okanagan Valley in Osoyoos, British Columbia. Sited adjacent to a remnant of the Great Basin Desert (approximately 1,600 acres are being preserved by the band as a conservation area), this interpretative centre is part of a larger 200-acre master plan. Nk’Mip is the first of a number of new B.C. aboriginal centres, and part of a growing trend to explore the expressive potential of architecture to convey the rich past and the transforming future of aboriginal culture. The practical reasons behind this architectural exploration grow out of provincial leadership—a premier whose efforts to improve aboriginal relations have resulted in changes to the treaty process—as well as a shift in the regulatory environment governing the types of buildings permitted on reserve land.
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