E Toe Sa'saa le Fafao, Return to Paradise

E Toe Sa'saa le Fafao, Return to Paradise

Carinnya Malelega FEAUNATI

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Following the devastating tsunami of Samoa in 2009 many villages on the south coast of the main island Upolu were left in ruins, one such site is the heritage rich village of Sa'anapu. Five years on the coastal front village is still in a state of ruin and the imminent risk of future tsunami have seen the relocation of families inland, away from the sea, the resourceful mangrove and their historically significant fale tele that once housed their ancestors. Many families who have rebuilt inland have inevitably abandoned their traditionally constructed homes on the beach front and opted for western influenced dwellings. This is due to high costs, traditional skill shortage and an underlying notion of the western influence that impedes small pacific island nations today. Although the increasing foreign aid being injected into the country for community development is a positive move to rebuilding villages, they bring a western architectural typology. With this comes an alarming decline in the traditional Samoan craft of construction, spatial constructs and ultimately the desire of the youth to retain their built heritage for the future. This presentation will cover an overview of a design research discussion conducted in my final year of the Masters of Architecture (Professional) degree. The research argues that the rebuild process in the devastated villages seeing the first hand effects of climate change present an opportunity to retain cultural practices in particular for a community rich village such as Sa'anapu. It also argues that culturally adapted and environmentally considerate design is vital in re-invigorating a displaced community but also encourages future sustainable development- culturally, environmentally and the economic. The presentation will go over the research process in its multidisciplinary framework of environmental science and anthropology to inform the architecture of a case study building that being a housing complex and education centre. The scientific approach to the research seeks to mitigate the risks and vulnerability of the site in relation to future natural disasters whereas the anthropologic approach with the direct involvement of village of Sa'anapu through participatory design has proven the sharing of knowledge equals better design for those in question and the end result caters to the aspirations for the future of their village and livelihood. The research presents a methodological approach to architecture for indigenous nations facing the harsh effects of climate change so that they can be physically better prepared for the ever changing environment whilst retaining their tangible heritage and identity.



My name is Carinnya Feaunati, I am 24 years of age and have just completed a Master of Architecture (Professional) at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.  I am a full Samoan young woman who is proud of my heritage, culture and ultimately the strands of my identity that make me who I am today. I am from a family of 7 and my Parents are both full Samoans who came to New Zealand as young adults in search of better living opportunities.  I am extremely passionate about Indigenous people and as a young Samoan woman I have grown to appreciate the unique approach and way of thinking this has presented to all of life's applications. It is this love for learning about my people and my ancestors that brought me to study architecture in particular in my final year looking at the environmental and social implications around the livelihoods of our communities in the adversity of climate change. One of the major contributing factors in choosing to study and pursue a career in the field of architecture was the ability of its tangible and non-tangible outcomes to have a positive influence on people and the spaces they inhabit every day.  I truly believe the direction of my research will contribute positively to the discussion of how architecture, our creations and the thought process of designers can play a part in the future of our communities in the harsh realities of climate change. I am currently working as a Graduate Architect and also continuing my research initiated in my thesis. I hope to present the findings of my architectural, scientific and anthropologic research from a perspective of a young Samoan women who is ready to help change the world!

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