A New Way. Niue
With the increase in climate change, small Pacific nations such as Niue face significant risks from rising sea levels and the increased intensity of natural disasters such as tropical cyclones. These extreme weather events have caused severe devastation therefore threatening the fragile economy, and social and cultural fabric that make up the identity of Niue, a Pacific nation. This is evident in the decline of the island’s population. A current issue faced by Pacific nations such as Niue is the lack of contemporary vernacular, sustainable and resilient architectural solutions to the environmental and economic issues these nations face. Further compelling this situation is the lack of research and study of Niue’s traditions and cultural practices, vernacular architecture and natural environment. This issue has negatively affected urban renewal and developmental projects, most of which have been formulated based on individual’s experiences, outdated attitudes and approaches or the findings of research conducted through pan-Pasifika or western lenses. The devastating outcomes of Cyclone Heta in 2004, which struck most of the coastal edge of Niue, particularly the South side of the Capital Alofi, Aliluki and destroyed the national hospital, the national museum, the Niue Hotel and Amanau apartments brought to light the seriousness of this issue. From then until now, Aliluki which once was the centre of Niue has been stigmatised by cyclone destruction, and deteriorated into a barren ruin overgrown by nature. This thesis aims to document and preserve through this project, local knowledge associated with Niuean building traditions and cultural practices; develop a design method that leads to a contemporary architectural solution informed by the local culture, traditional practices and contextual situation; and develop a viable architectural solution that contributes to increasing the resilience and sustainability of Aliluki to future disasters and enhances the economic prosperity of the community through an increase in social, economic, and cultural opportunities. The design thesis argues that understanding Niue’s traditional values, practices, and contextual situation will help identify resilient and sustainable vernacular architectural solutions for Niue’s cyclone-prone environment. This is done through two stages of the research: Theoretical grounding and a one-month field research and site studies in Niue. All the key literature, case studies and key findings were then explored, tested and developed through the urban re-development of Aliluki and a design of a cultural centre that will be used as an evacuation shelter in the event of a devastating tropical cyclone. In search for a better and safer future, this research will hopefully contribute towards the survival of the people and traditions of Niue, who has for several decades, struggled with the forces of modernisation.