Burlington, as well as Newfoundland's many outport communities, were established from the sea, and exist because of the once abundant fisheries found in this part of the North Atlantic. Outport communities relied on the extraction of natural resources for their stainability, and they evolved a sophisticated relationship with a harsh and unforgiving coastal landscape.
From the perspective of heritage professionals, these locally evolved and culturally specific qualities would constitute the intangible cultural heritage of Burlington. UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as:
"The practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups, and in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity".
As part of the Culture of Outports project, a team of ERA staff taught an intensive design/build course in the small outport of Burlington, Newfoundland. The course was run through the Dalhousie University School of Architecture, and began with a lengthy road-trip from St. John's, where students had the opportunity to study and immerse themselves in the local and material culture. Then, working with the full support of the Burlington community and assisted by a range of craftspeople, ERA led the six architecture students in the design and construction of a small-scale intervention bred from site-specific conditions, drawing upon vernacular building techniques and traditional craft practices, and making use of local materials.