Woven Walls Threaded Horizons: Traditional Architecture in the Modern Urban Fabric of Papua New Guinea

Rosemarie Rusch

Research output: Other contributionResearch


An escalating demand for housing solutions that meet the needs of both urban and rural residents has been highlighted by the impact of human settlement expansion on overpopulation and the resultant development crises, particularly for Pacific Rim economies. Importantly, many reports have focussed on development agendas, basic human rights, urban poverty, urbanisation, and infrastructure, yet little research has extended specifically to housing.

Evaluation of village and settlement housing tends to be based on social and physical images that are often subjective and at odds with the comparative desires of architects and planners. Residents may well prioritise location, access to kinship structures and support, as well as the economic benefits of informal trade, over and above the physical appearance of a building.

The result of a complex balance between environmental, social and economic factors, criteria in vernacular architecture are often implicit and unstated. Furthermore, a group’s adaptive strategies within its ecological setting encourages a particular designed environment based on values, which lead to the constructed norms that broadly distinguish one group from another (Rapoport 1998). This does not explain the variety of built forms in similar ecological settings; even so, it is perhaps these adaptive strategies that complicate establishing a baseline from which to gauge the extent of selective or imposed change in traditional village housing.

A response to these issues inevitably leads to debate on the meaning of culture in the PNG built environment, where the ephemeral nature of traditional architecture means that physical examples may no longer exist. This thesis proposes that there is an intrinsic link between the legacy of traditional architecture and social practice, and that there are tangible benefits for continuing the use of traditional design while leaving room for individuals to determine their own contemporary housing needs.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputReview Catalogue
PublisherBond University
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationRobina
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameReview Catalogue
PublisherBond University


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