Reflection/Process: Quw'utsun Urban Design Guidelines

Updated: May 6, 2021

In one of my courses, we were tasked with creating community design guidelines for a community located on Vancouver Island. I consulted and sought confirmation from my instructor to see if I could create design guidelines for my own community Cowichan Tribes, located in Duncan, BC.


The assignment quickly evolved into the exploration of design guidelines for other Indigenous communities such as New Zealand and Australia. It was an interesting process reviewing their language, culture, knowledge, traditions and unravelling the colonial roots, and exploring new ways to implement design practices that incorporated Indigenous perspective.


The process for this assignment consisted of:

  • Indigenous guidelines/design research

  • Community inquiry

  • Review of precedents

  • Weaving in my own traditional knowledge and lived experience

  • Consulting our/my own sul-hween (elders).

The initial research and guidelines serve as a starting point for undertaking community design work however, there is a great opportunity to build on this framework and further explore community ideals and create a framework that can be applied to other communities.


As many communities continue to ratify and implement their land code, now more than ever, will it be important to define how our communities will be designed and structured. This will be especially important for communities who are immersed in development, housing, infrastructure and land use planning.


Let me know your thoughts, ideas and questions! Thank you for reading.


504 Design Guidelines
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