Why are wooden grain elevators important architecture within Saskatchewan's evolving culture and how could they be adapted for future use?
The grain elevator is an iconic monument on the prairies and has been referred to as the most Canadian of architectural forms. Saskatchewan once had over 3,000 wooden grain elevators. Today there are a little over 400 still standing while only 80 are still in working order. This thesis explores the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the wooden grain elevators in Saskatchewan and presents an architectural response through adaptive reuse.
While these elevators were once purely functional structures, their unintentional monumentality has contributed to their relationship with Prairie people fostering individual and communal identities. The architectural project focuses on an architectural adaptive reuse of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator in the town of Indian Head, SK as a case study.
The unique grid plan generated the organization of interior spaces. Community gardens around the base of the elevator and re-purposed railway tracks as a walking path encourage interaction between the site and the community. A community kitchen and tourist information centre are located within the drive shed of the elevator. At the base of the grain cribs, voids have been cut through the bin walls to create an open community gathering space. A series of stairways and narrow pathways allow visitors to explore the unique interior spaces within the grain elevator. There are two guest suites in the shoulder of the elevator. A small bakery/coffee shop is located in the cupola, which provides an expansive view of the prairie landscape from a brand new perspective. A new glass elevator replaces the original wooden grain elevating mechanism ensuring the new spaces are wheelchair accessible.
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