Our Sustainable Building

Not only does the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre promote conservation efforts for desert wildlife, but it all takes place in an eco-friendly building. The centre has received top awards for its environmentally innovative architectural design.

The building was designed by Bruce Haden of Hotson, Bakker, Boniface Haden and completed in 2006. The building is semi-underground, a design which is an homage to the traditional winter dwellings of the Okanagan First Nations and makes use of the insulating properties of the surrounding hillside.

Rammed earth walls:

Rammed earth is an ancient building technique updated for modern construction. Each layer made of concrete mixed with local soil and mineral pigment, is poured and tamped down separately. The thick walls have a layer of added insulation and steel reinforcement, greatly increasing energy efficiency and earthquake resistance.

Pine-beetle damaged wood

The wood used as a decorative accent in the building is local blue-stained pine that has been discoloured by microscopic fungi, giving it a unique blue tint. Our centre was one of the first to promote the use of blue-stained wood from beetle damaged trees.

Green roof

Twenty cm (8 in.) of soil lies atop the concrete roof and has been planted with desert vegetation, creating a “green roof”. The overall aesthetic of the building is intended to be a seamless extension of the desert environment.

Radiant heating and cooling

Hot water radiant piping located within the floor is an energy efficient means of heating the building during the winter, while cold water radiant ceiling pipes cool the building in summer, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Low-water use

The centre is equipped with waterless urinals and dual-flush small tank toilets to minimize water waste, a conservational feature vital in the desert. The outdoor landscape is wild native or dryland plants that do not require irrigation.


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