Auki Provincial Courthouse

Location: Auki, Solomon Islands
Client: Regional Assitance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) / SKM
Status: Completed 2009

 

Auki Provincial Courthouse was developed following the commencement of construction of the nearby Provincial Prison designed by JCA. The facility would support the Law & Order Infrastructure program and enable the trials of accused persons, particularly those from the island of Malaita the ability for the judicial process to reflect the distinct cultural identities of the people of the Solomons. JCA were appointed to develop a design that would capture the architectural style and construction techniques associated with the region utilising local materials in particular stone and hardwood whilst capturing the aesthetic of the Solomons through the roof form. This strategic approach was essential in addressing the sensitivity of how to reconcile the regional differences with the Solomon Islands following the unrest of the early 2000’s and how the value of a court (and associated prison) on Malaita would assist in reducing the potential for the complex social and cultural patterns in the region being seen to de-stabilise the judicial process. The architectural approach therefore recognising these challenges adopted a contemporary  interpretation of the vernacular, highlighted by the roof form, a feature that is expressed as proudly internally as it is in defining the building from the outside. This modern ‘Leaf House’ in many respects fulfils the role of the village leaf hut. The exposed timber structure and finishes inside seek to soften the space - noting that the pragmatics of the buildings function dictate a level of security that cannot be concealed.The building provides offices, holding cells and the main courthouse - split over 2 levels a ramp provides covered access allowing for disabled access, necessary as the brief required the project to meet Australian Standards and the BCA. 

The original design intent incorporated a large overhang to the main entry facade with large sunshade blades to the louvred glazing. This formed part of the early consideration of reducing operational costs by implementing proven passive design strategies. This was value managed out of the project during construction by the client - however the concept remains sufficiently flexible that allowance exists for sunshading to be retrofitted at a later stage. This process was typical of working in the region due to the limited skills of local contractors in understanding the complex contractual expectations, as such program and budget factors were not fully appreciated by the contractor until well into the actual construction process itself. as a result a number of modifications were made to the building as a means of assisting the contractor in managing critical timeframes against a limited budget.

 

 

Photography: James Cubitt Architects