While the South Pacific is justly famed for its white beaches and vibrant ocean life, it is also home to some of the world’s most striking architecture, found in a dynamic region of beauty housing vibrant communities with rich artistic cultures that have attracted travelers for centuries.

Conditioned by the dynamics of its remote location and imported design influences, the architecture is expressive of the emergence of a contemporary South Pacific identity. Often, the evolution of architecture in the region typifies its history, as the different islands have been subjected to the trans-formative forces of foreign trade and religion, colonization, war and the growth of tourism and renewed nationalism in the postcolonial era.

Written by Jennifer Taylor and James Conner, Architecture in the South Pacific: The Ocean of Islands offers an enlightening picture to those who are new the ‘Isles of Paradise’, and to those who wish to discover them afresh through the perspective of exceptional architecture. The rich imagery presented in the dozens of colour photographs, most of which have never before appeared in print, and the informed and engaging essays offer a new and unique look at the history and culture of the Pacific Islands.

This book is a pioneering study of the region’s development – from the arrival of architectural styles from Europe to the emergence of a unique and constantly evolving architectural identity fashioned by the remote location, incomparable setting and distinctive ethnic mix of inhabitants. While there have been many well-documented studies on Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, little information has been published on the small island lands with the exception of some studies of the vernacular buildings. It tells the overlooked story of the buildings and towns of the small South Pacific islands engendered by the European presence, which forms a major focus of the study. In addition, traditional Pacific buildings, practices and expressions are looked at in great detail.

A series of themed essays present the story of architectural development in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Samoa and American Samoa, and French Polynesia. Architecture in the South Pacific: The Ocean of Islands does not have aspirations to be a fully documented history, and the ‘history’ within it’s pages does not follow a linear sequence. However, it is loosely ordered with regard to developments through time. It is divided into six parts:

1 The World of Oceania

2 In Transition: Settlements in the South Pacific

3 Places of the South Pacific: Down the Coral Sea to Fiji

4 Places of the South Pacific: Within the Polynesian Triangle

5 Faith Across the Southern Ocean

6 Voices of the South Pacific

Architecture in the South Pacific: The Ocean of Islands examines examples of traditional buildings of note, both historical and contemporary in the subequatorial Pacific. The book recounts an important development in the making of the contemporary South Pacific – that of the new and diverse architecture, together with regional buildings of note, both historical and contemporary. These buildings include the Grande Case at Sarramea, New Caledonia, and the Great Hall of the National University of Samoa. There are also examples of structures such as the SPEC Headquarters, Noumea, and the Assembly Building, Papeete, that find their origin and design logic in the rationality and expressive power of the Pacific ethos. A wide range of building types, including crisp modern residences and spectacular mission churches, like the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, and the uniquely oval-shaped churches of Tonga, stand alongside sensational resorts in paradise and distinctive cultural buildings such as the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, the architect of which, Renzo Piano, won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998, the year in which it was completed.

Presented in full colour, this book will appeal to architects, students and armchair tourists – to anyone interested in discovering and learning about the inimitable islands of the South Pacific. It offers just a snapshot from a possible series taken across the buildings within the evolving milieu of the people in the South Pacific, inhabiting one of the most beautiful but volatile environments on earth.

Posted by