12 September 2011

HOME IN A BOX











Koroipita Model Town: sustainable community project in

Lautoka, Fiji [June/July 2011]


I dedicate this blogpost to a recent project I worked on in Fiji, with two of my colleagues - Matt Myers / Vince Raso - and 23 of my students. It took me two years to return to Fiji. I finally got to get my hands dirty on a project I worked earlier on the drawing board - inc. supervised work on Design and Building Guidelines for Koroipita - carried out with Tim Sleeth and Ben Carr [Final Project 2010]. This time it was not on the drawing board but taking real action in-situ which was a great experience and really fun too! The houses or "bures" are minimal shelter structures not even beyond 25m2 yet these basic homes cater for families. Each bure has two bedrooms in a single detached space and second - smaller - detached unit with kitchen, toilet and shower facilities. Both divided by an external corridor which also operates as a breezeway. The sites are generally generous allowing families to harvest the land or to ad future workshop shelters to cater for family micro businesses such as craft production.

As small and basic these homes or 'bures' seem to be, they are proven to be creating a healthy sustainable community expecte to grow to near 200 homes in this particular site. An original Koroipita stage K1 site currently contains some 80 home and has proven to be of great success. With "K2" we set up the first pair of homes - which is what you can see on the photos below.

'Koro' means town in Fijian and 'Pita' is Peter - the town is named after it founder Peter Drysdale. The Koroipita project and site visits have been incredibly interesting for my students (and me of course) especially as we take this as a living lab - not only design and construction lab but also for property, economics and environmental disciplines. My colleague Matt Myers was the first one to take me to Fiji back in 2009 - with a group of students - and the real expert on culture, politics and the local economy. 

We can refer to Koroipita as an environmentally responsive and responsible community which has fully embraced innovative concepts with a minimum of cost, materials and resources. It has also been an education and training space for environmental design, construction and sustainability as it simplifies complex cycles we can see in cities but in a small village scale as a learning base - we can then scale things up and better understand a number of issues hard to visualise when embedded living in a city like Melbourne!

Koroipita, its location, it nature and its people have been truly amazing! "Home-in-a-Box" is certainly not as "squarish" is it sounds!

Salduos, GAM