Guovdageaidnu, directly translated means ‘halfway’ since its location is halfway between two traditional migrating points. Geographically it is at the centre of Northern Sapmi and for the Sami it represents the heartland and center of Sami culture: “Mu ruoktu lea mu vaimmus” (my home is in my heart).
Whilst Inhabitants of the region for over 3500 years, archaeological evidence is hard to find. Sami people leave no physical trace with the exception only of their communal hearths. A semi nomadic lifestyle with a strong connection to the landscape and sympathy for their impact on it, they tread lightly.
The traditional Sami way of life and language has been put under increasing pressure from forced cultural normalization. Language plays a crucial role into the lives of the Sami people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person’s unique identify, cultural history, tradition and memory. In Guovdageaidnu, Sami has remained the primary spoken language, reinforcing its importance as a cultural heartland.
Culture = Language + Connection to land + Identity + Health
Risks posed to all indigenous cultures, as they inevitably assimilate with the westernised world, are a direct threat to this cultural core.
Resource exploitation + Linguistic policies + Mass tourism +social services
Sami people possess a spirit that manifests in their inner strength, their Verdde lifestyle reduces their reliance on external influences and reinforces their connectivity as a community at a time when technological advances make autonomous living a possibility and represents their ultimate vulnerability.
Faced with a crossroads between traditional living and modernization their preparation for future generations is crucial at this time, to create a framework that will enable the Sami culture to adapt intuitively to the world around it. To reinforce their cultural foundations not through isolation and reluctance to change, but through embracing the available technologies and global connectivity to strengthen their cultural being. To harness the energy and resistance of their ancestors and to generate a pride in their culture that encourages the youth to return to, and remain in, the town. To provide renewed respect for the elders and Sami traditions and to fuel an excitement and optimism that will see the Sami culture projected into the future with the support of the world yet with ultimate freedom.
We believe a transformation of this scale cannot be achieved through an architectural intervention alone, but through genuine understanding, assistance and collaboration in the provision of a set of organisational principals that govern the composition of the future infrastructure, made from a basic set of rudimentary forms. Providing the Sami with the tools they need to navigate the pathway to great change.