ELASTICOFarm to design Weengushk Film Institute centre for learning

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Weengushk Film Institute’s new centre for learning will be designed by architects ELASTICOFarm led by Stefano Pujatti.

The building will be shaped like a turtle floating above the earth, an important symbol in Indigenous cultures.

Italian architect Stefano Pujatti, principal at Elastico Farm designed the new building for the Weengushk Film Institute (WFI), a non-profit, film and television-training centre on Manitoulin Island.

It’s a project that celebrates the rich aboriginal culture of the place, its traditions and myths, as well as its magnificent natural setting and was presented in world premiere at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy.

Pujatti, who works in Italy and Canada, visited WFI in 2019 and when the RFP was launched to design the new centre, his firm, Elastico Farm in partnership with KFA Architects, entered and won

The imposing metal structure — a salvaged beam whose wings were partially detached and the core, left free, was then flamecarved, alludes to the soon-to-be iconic edifice for the Weengushk Film Institute and has an strongy materic feel to it A red dress hangs from the structure, a dramatic symbol for First Nation women who are kidnapped and killed each year in North America.

The large model that is placed at the foot of the totem includes a curious object, which vaguely resembles the shape of a turtle.

“It’s the metaphorical reference the client held as a pre-requisite for the project,” the architect explained. “Native American oral histories tell stories of a turtle that holds the world on its back, and Turtle Island is the name used by some indigenous people to indicate North America.

“The turtle evoked by this terracotta model, whose dark color was obtained by firing it in the absence of oxygen, has a deep symbolic value: it is an icon of life itself, a marker of identity, culture, autonomy and a deeply-held respect for the environment.”

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