The Whitecap Dakota First Nation has collaborated with designers on the Dakota Dunes Resort, a new 155-room hotel and conference centre in Whitecap, Saskatchewan.
Completed during the height of the pandemic, the project showcases Indigenous themes and creates unique cultural experiences for its visitors and guests.
aodbt architecture + interior design, in collaboration with LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture Design during the initial phases, worked with the Whitecap Dakota First Nation to design and develop this multi-million-dollar resort hotel, which is the final stage of a larger hospitality complex. The overall motif explores the Indigenous themes of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air, each of which is represented in a specific area of the hotel.
In the early stages of the project, the intent was to design and produce custom lighting fixtures. However, the pandemic created various challenges concerning availability, so the aodbt team collaborated with Titan Electrical Group Inc. to re-imagine the lighting, with Eureka Lighting luminaires selected for several areas of the hotel.
The project has been a significant one for the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, bringing significant employment opportunities during construction and now in operations and management. It has generated a good deal of excitement and positive feedback, and the community is incredibly proud of the result.
“Our team was honoured to be a part of such an important project for Whitecap Dakota First Nation and to have created something special for the community” said Nicole Tiessen, principal at aodbt and lead interior designer for the hotel. “We are thrilled with how the lighting complements the architecture and supports the Indigenous themes throughout. Each fixture in place adds a lot of interest and depth to our design concept.
Water is the theme for the exhibit corridor, which is the main artery between the lobby, conference rooms, and the bar and restaurant. Floor to ceiling windows line one side. Luminaires are suspended over exhibit cases along the windows, which display Indigenous artifacts and special gift shop items. The pendant features an elegant artisanal casted glass disc. Light is blended through an internal diffuser, sending warm illumination over the cases below.
“We selected Celeste because of the organic shape of the glass on the fixture and the ability to stagger multi-stack fixtures; this blended seamlessly with the element of water in this corridor,” said Tiessen. “And we staggered single and double luminaires along the corridor to create the illusion of rain coming down.”
Earth themes are illustrated in the restaurant and bar areas. While the restaurant is not a large room, its ceiling is very high. So, lighting was used as an architectural feature to define different zones within the space.
The importance of the cattle industry, and the role of the bison in traditional Indigenous culture, is represented in the restaurant and bar through the colour palettes, fabric, and graphics. Designers chose a specific fixture for the bar area because its shape and felt panels subtly represent a basket weaving.
Guest room design reflects the Air theme, with plenty of natural light, patterning in the carpet, and a lighter colour palette. From the Nation’s leadership, Chief Bear, a headdress photo has been transformed into a graphic wallpaper behind every room’s headboard. The sacred piece needed to be the focal point. In place of standard table lamps, designers used sleek pendants above each nightstand. With a small 2.75-inch aperture, the 18-inch high black pendants are discreet while directing a narrow beam of light over the surface.