University of Victoria

National Centre for Indigenous Laws

Victoria, BC

The University of Victoria’s National Centre for Indigenous Laws (NCIL) creates a dedicated home for UVic’s world-first JD/JID joint Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders degree program, supporting the University’s groundbreaking work toward reconciliation of divergent legal traditions under one roof. The NCIL is being constructed on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen peoples, and has been designed to honour the host nations while welcoming Indigenous students, staff and community members from coast to coast and around the world. The project is a direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report Call to Action 50.

Led by a collaborative partnership between Two Row Architect (Prime), Teeple Architects Inc., and Low Hammond Rowe Architects, the design emerged from a long and heartfelt process of listening to Elders, artists, and knowledge-keepers from the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ communities, and Law faculty, staff and students. The NCIL expands the existing Fraser Law Building, becoming the face of the Faculty of Law, forming a continuous looping path linking old and new, lined by connection with nature, places for gathering and storytelling, and pause. The building’s slender, organic form touches lightly upon the land, minimizing tree loss in the sacred space of the surrounding mature forest. The hybrid mass timber structure was sited to minimize disturbance to existing ecosystems. The reuse of mature trees displaced by construction as visible structural elements, makes the practice of environmental stewardship fundamental to the experience of the place.

Awards

Winner of the 2023 Canadian Architect Awards – Award of Excellence.