The traditional Inuit diet, which is centered on hunting and fishing, has been slowly compromised by an influx of southern manufactured food products, leading to increased obesity and diabetes levels. The health impacts of this diet are amplified in the north, due to the high cost of shipping fresh produce and healthier, perishable goods to radically dispersed and remote northern communities. A typical food basket in Nunavut is twice the cost of the same food basket in southern Canada, while standards of living and salaries are often lower. The Arctic Food Network (AFN) addresses an urgent need for a snowmobile accessed regional network of arctic farms, freezers, and camp hubs. The AFN encircles the large body of the Foxe Basin in Nunavut, Canada, home to a richly diverse wildlife, along the coast of Baffin Island and some 30,000 Nunavummiut.The Arctic Food Network is a new model for cold climate survival that would assist to sustain the rapidly increasing (youthful) populations in northern settlements, but also potentially offer a future exportable economy for the North. Each of the hubs along the AFN opportunistically negotiates its local ecosystems, emergent biological potentials, and its proximity to communities. AFN hubs are distributed at 160km intervals. Hubs occupy varied sites: land, water/ice, or coastal conditions. Each of these sitings offers a specific harvestable food product. The Arctic Food Network utilizes the existing skidoo trails, the only form of ground connection amongst the eleven disconnected Inuit communities of Baffin Island. The project proposes to address the threats of health, poverty, and loss of culture through the integration of communities with a unique infrastructure system. It is a 21st century arctic snow highway, with arctic rest-stop cabins. The AFN trail hubs re-enforce the use of the trails by strategically deploying a regional network of hunting cabins, arctic farms and camp hubs that encircle Foxe Basin and acknowledge the Inuit tradition of temporary enclosure in a cold climate.
LATERAL OFFICE, founded in 2003 by Mason White and Lola Sheppard, is an experimental design practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urbanism. The studio describes its practice process as a commitment to “design as a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions in the built environment,” engaging in the “wider context and climate of a project– social, ecological, or political.”
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