Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Bamboo Fale: Climate of Change

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posted on 2021-11-23, 10:24 authored by Cayford, Emily

The world is currently sitting on the brink of a massive upheaval as Climate Change continues to intensify. At this stage, there is no apparent turning back: the only remaining option is to adapt. While many countries are already feeling the effects, the most vulnerable lie within the Pacific Islands.  With 70% of the Samoan population living along their coastline (The World Bank, 2016), the country is identified as one of the most vulnerable Pacific Islands. It is prone to high waves and storm surges, along with tropical cyclones, which destroy livelihoods and housing, as well as claiming lives.  The traditional architecture of Samoa was originally built to withstand such weather events, but has not been adapting to resist the increased cyclone intensity and rising sea levels. The materials and building practices currently used within Samoa do not have the properties to resist these extreme weather events.  Western building practises have been introduced and into the Samoan construction industry, but has not yet successfully been integrated. Combinations of traditional and Western building practises are, instead, resulting in buildings more vulnerable than ever. This issue remains unresolved, with unsuitable housing remaining one of the largest dilemmas currently faced by Samoa’s inhabitants.  Samoa recently graduated from the classification: Least Developed Country, to be classified as a Developing Country (Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience). This places Samoa as one of the more developed nations of the Pacific, therefore encouraging Samoa to take the lead in resilience to the ever imposing effects of Climate Change. Samoa has a close relationship with both New Zealand and Australia and therefore has access to building expertise, education and materials. Why, then, is Samoa so lacking in architectural resilience to the effects of Climate Change?  This paper endeavours to investigate this gap and, in turn provide a potential resolution. These solutions could aid other Pacific countries as well as encouraging further architectural resilience that can then be mirrored by the remaining, vulnerable countries of the Pacific.  This thesis first investigates the question:  “Why has Samoan culture not developed stronger architectural resilience against Climate Change?”  This thesis then evolves to question:  “How can Samoan architecture be hybridised to influence increased architectural resilience against Climate Change?”


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Potangaroa, Regan