Kiribati Design Studio – Central Pacific Island

Kiribati Building, Pacific Island Design Studio, Photo, Design, Property

Kiribati Design Studio

Central Pacific Island Architecture

14 Jul 2011

Kiribati Design Studio

Planning for the future : university students to explore the housing and human settlement needs of Kiribati residents

The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation in the central tropical Pacific Ocean.
The population is just over 100,000.

University of Melbourne students gained valuable experience in urban design, planning and architecture as part of a unique travelling design studio to the Central Pacific island of Kiribati.

The fourteen Masters students studying architecture, urban planning or building, worked with local professionals on a draft structure plan, construction guidelines and model house designs for the South Tarawa area from June 27 until July 8.

Kiribati Design Studio Kiribati Design Studio Kiribati Design Studio
photographs from University of Melbourne

The studio is designed to work in with the Government of Kiribati’s urban renewal initiatives, while collaborating with the Ministry of Environment, Lands & Agricultural Development and Central Land Planning Board, the Teinainano Urban Council, the Betio Town Council and their respective Citizens’ Taskforces.

Studio leader, Associate Professor Colleen Butcher-Gollach, said the students were able to play a meaningful role in assisting locals to improve conditions in existing urban villages. “One of the key assignments the students have is to look at the existing quality of housing and come up with simple, low cost construction guidelines to home owners about how they can improve their buildings.”

“While a lot of the buildings are quite traditional in material use and style, there are an increasing number of Western style buildings that don’t have much to draw on in terms of inspiration or ideas. Regardless, the students looked at things such as roofing and guttering, the types of foundations that are in place as well as how ventilation can be improved.”

“Quite a number of existing villages are overcrowded, and there has been little effective development control over where people live and how. So the students also have the opportunity to provide input into a draft structure plan for guiding future growth of the South Tarawa area, as well as helping to come up with ‘model’ housing plans for low or middle income families who have the opportunity to build on a new green fields subdivision being created by the Government.

“The structure plan is something entirely new for South Tarawa” said Associate Professor Butcher-Gollach. “While the authorities have had general land use plans completed in the past, there’s never been one overall strategy to link all the villages East to West and in particular identify areas that are not safe for human settlement due to the effects of climate change.”

“Kiribati is only a small country, one that doesn’t have that many civil servants but that still has a huge number of infrastructure investments it needs to complete. So the students had a chance to get first hand experience and exposure to local government practices on projects with real world applications.”

Kiribati Design Studio images / information from University of Melbourne


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Kiribati Design Studio Building