As architects, we are committed to conserving our cultural heritage. In addition to our experience adapting and reusing older buildings, we provide strategies for adapting communities, evaluating their cultural assets, and rehabilitating their built and natural forms.

In 2010, ERA Architects and the Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal initiated the Culture of Outports project in order to explore adaptive reuse potentials for the unique collection of communities that scatter the coastline of Newfoundland. Outport communities continue to change and adapt to major economic and cultural shifts; most significantly, the cod moratorium. These forces have had a profound impact on the sustainability of the communities, and pose a threat to the intangible cultural heritage that defines them.

The Culture of Outports project proposes that an understanding of the unique history and character of these outport communities is essential in order to successfully plan and manage their future evolution, post fisheries. There are plenty of examples throughout the province to suggest that communities are exploring alternative economies and opportunities, and even searching to invent new industries and ways of life in response to these major shifts. In many cases, creative thinkers are rebuilding these communities in the next wave of cultural activity.

For an overview of the site-specific projects undertaken in outport communities over the past few years, please browse the project blogs to the left. These first projects have included significant teaching components, and have been run as design/build studios with university-level architecture students. The blogs linked at left are presented in reverse chronological order, and provide documentation of the research, design, and construction phases.

The Culture of Outports projects share a common set of values and objectives, though each phase is designed to respond to the site-specific conditions in the different communities. The over-arching project objectives include:

  • Research, showcase, and promote the rich cultural heritage of the outport community.
  •  Learn from local building traditions, and to engage with the local community to better understand the inventory of local tangible and intangible cultural resources.
  • Work with university students and members of the local community to attempt to interpret these cultural resources in a sensitive, informed manner which serves both to reference the importance of the heritage of the community while addressing contemporary needs.
  • Design and build a small-scale permanent installation on the site, in partnership with the local community.
  • Document the design/build project, such that it may be used by the community for future fundraising purposes, or by neighbouring communities to imagine the potential in their own context.
  • Publish and disseminate this knowledge and research using a variety of media.
  • Imagine how this study fits into larger regional planning initiatives.

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