ERA Architects

Workshopping Ideas for the Upcoming Bell Island Build


Culture of Outports (CoO) uses research, design, and planning to help support liveable communities undergoing economic and cultural change after the closure of Newfoundland’s Cod Fishery.

These communities are often struggling with ways to move forward following the decline in traditional livelihoods. For the past four years, ERA has collaborated with students and community members to design and build small structures within each of five communities – like a viewing platform or a warming hut – that help catalyze this transition by exploring the cultural heritage of the area and articulating a practice, place, or opportunity which represents a possible strategy for renewal. Our 2015 build will take place at Newfoundland’s Bell Island Mine Museum, which opened in 1999, more than 40 years after the last mine on the island closed.

Miners aboard the man tram. Photo from Bell Island Mining History.

CoO’s Community Builds allow us to work with the community to explore and express the adaptive reuse of cultural heritage through architectural design. Through this, we not only bring together small communities across Canada, but architectural communities as well. Under the guidance of ERA Architects, students of architecture from both the University of Toronto and Ryerson University have come together to brainstorm ideas for an innovative and inspired community build.

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Ideas presented by the University of Toronto and Ryerson students.

This year’s students recently presented potential designs that were both site-specific and attuned to the needs and values of the museum and the community. Their proposals aimed to commemorate miners and celebrate mining history while considering the feasibility of the project. The community is interested in commemorating its history while also looking forward, and making the site accessible, useable, and a cultural focal point for those both on and off the Island.

Student presents potential design plan to the group.

In upcoming news, the team will decide on a final design and embark on their journey to Bell Island where they will begin building a new and exciting structure on the grounds of the No. 2 Mine Museum, once the world’s largest submarine iron ore mine.


Stay tuned for updates on the build and follow the team’s journey in its realization.