Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
Skinner abstract - Learning from Frobenius.docx (14.49 kB)

Learning from Frobenius

Download (14.49 kB)
conference contribution
posted on 2024-05-23, 00:06 authored by Robin SkinnerRobin Skinner
Learning from Frobenius Robin Skinner, Victoria University of Wellington Late in the nineteenth century, the German writer, Herman Frobenius (1841–1916) published the first survey of the architecture of the Pacific entitled Oceanische Bautypen (1899). As his title suggests, this study focussed upon building type taking no cognisance of climate, need or culture. It was an exercise in architectural autonomy by a writer who never left Europe. Possibly an indirect legacy of the work of French theorist, Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand (1760-1834), it came from a thread in architectural history within which typology was appraised separately from cultural logic. It was taxonomy of form disconnected from tradition and site. This paper discusses the omission evidenced in Frobenius’s work, taking this case study as a point of departure to discuss the design of some buildings erected in the Pacific through to the present day. Arguably, there is over a century of some built works that exhibit a comparable blindspot. Possibly designed by people with limited experience of the Pacific, there are built examples that reveal an indifference to climate, need and available resources. This paper seeks to provoke discussion. As was the case in 1899, it considers if design disconnected from people and site persists, and if so, asks how can we improve. Keywords: architectural design, climate responsive design, Herman Frobenius (1841–1916)


Preferred citation

Skinner, R. (2024, May). Learning from Frobenius. In 4th Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change Conference, Apia, Samoa. Apia, Samoa.

Conference name

4th Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change Conference

Conference start date


Conference finish date


Contribution type

Abstract; Unpublished Paper

Publication or Presentation Year


Publication status


Place of publication

Apia, Samoa

Usage metrics

    Conference papers


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager