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A Million Pounds of Mud

Museum baked into Canada’s only desert.

Osoyoos, British Columbia

Largest rammed-earth wall in North America

The desert flows over the building, which results in a habitable green roof and a structure that integrates nicely into the landscape. Further, the thick rammed earth (a type of low slump concrete) walls and green roof regulate the building’s temperature, and mitigate the effects of the extreme climate.

Traditional meets modern

The Osoyoos Indian Band was looking for a centre that celebrates their culture and history, and respects their relationship with the land. Our solution was to use design and materials that show that they’ve been there a long time and will be there a long time. And as part of that, we built the most sophisticated sustainable technologies right into the building.

Local help

Used blue-stain pine (pine beetle wood) donated by the forest industry.

Construction, design and materials that protect the sensitive site

Local experts informed us about materials and building methods that would protect the sensitive desert ecosystem, and create facilities for the Band’s award-winning rattlesnake research project.

Project facts

Size: 39,000 sq. m./ 500,000 sq. ft.
Cost : $6.6 Million
Completed : 2006
Collaborators: Philips Farevaag Smallenberg
Builder: Greyback Construction
Client: Osoyoos Indian Band

Achievements & Awards

Category Winner, World Architecture Festival, Barcelona, Spain

SAB Award, Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine

Governor General's Medal in Architecture, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Award of Excellence, Innovation in Architecture, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada,

Inspirational Leadership Award, Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia

Lieutenant–Governor of British Columbia Medal of Excellence in Architecture, Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Wood Design Green Award, Canadian Wood Council

Awards for Excellence in Concrete Construction, Decorative Concrete Award, BC Ready–Mix Concrete Association