Local architecture is varied on many fronts; there are the simple, corrugated and iron houses typically found outside municipal boundaries, the basic concrete infrastructure of most residential and commercial buildings and then the hotels and resort-style luxury homes that unify modern designs with culturally authentic décor and woodwork.
The latter, ironically, is a luxury despite the resident abundance of striking hardwood, and as an award-winning architect highlights, reflects the confined availability of quality building material for local homes.
“The architects have been designing at lifting the standard of architecture, however the supply of substandard materials that do not conform to Australian and NZ standards is quite compelling,” noted Conway Beg, director of Conway Architects in Suva.
“Our national building codes make reference to these standards. In some ways, the hospitality industry has had the most dramatic influence on local architecture.”
He notes however, that the existing concrete industry has most influenced the coherent state of local architecture.
“The over use of blockwork and metal cladd roofing has had a more radical impact on the current blurry and at times depressing state of local architecture.
“Timber remains one of the core materials, but it could be better utilised in the design, and sadly most of the good timber is now exported. We need to introduce more appropriate sustainable materials that are readily available.”
These materials, he added, should meet Fiji’s harsh climatic conditions and conform to Australian and New Zealand standards.
“Hopefully this may inspire architects with a more robust design palette, to conceive innovative designs. It will certainly raise the design standards and influence the local vernacular.
“Architects need to commit to design excellence with an innovative pragmatic approach to problem-solving, which is essential to the current coherent state of architecture.”
Having worked on projects throughout the Pacific, Australia, and London, Beg’s portfolio includes a multitude of high-end luxury residences and resorts.
He recently scooped the main award alongside residential and interior awards at the Fiji Architects Association Awards.
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