National High Courts

Location: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Client: Government of Papua New Guniea
Status: Due 2019


James Cubitt Architects worked in collaboration with Peddle Thorp Architects - Brisbane and PNG were successful in being appointed by the Government of PNG as Principal Design Consultants for the new National High Courts in Waigani. The Complex is located within an expansive campus in the National parliamentary precinct. Following an extensive feasibility study it was identified that the existing 1970’s built facility required a significant upgrade and refurbishment to meet the expanding demands of a growing nation. The proposed implementation of a Court of Appeal to the existing National and Supreme Courts further increases the demand for significantly more courtrooms, judicial offices and administrative court support. Intended to be delivered over a staged works program the design for the new works seeks to provide a substantial civic building of over 25000sqm that meets the demands of a contemporary legal system whilst working within the climatic and cultural characteristics unique to PNG. The design seeks to address the unique culture of the people of PNG - with over 700 recorded Papuan and Melanesian tribes the complex social structures and characteristics of each group plays a major role in the process of delivering a unified high courts facility. Implementing these complex social structures into the pragmatics of building planning are essential. This impacts on functional relationships, building aesthetic, material selection, artwork and  life cycle costing (through on-going maintenance). The project will include three new judiciary buildings totally over 25,000m² constructed over a number of stages. 

The main component of the project is a 5-level Courts and Judiciary building designed to accommodate 14 new court rooms of differing sizes. Adjacent to this will be a 3-storey administrative support building with space for registries and associated agencies in addition to a single level security arrivals building. The strategic nature of the design allows these three buildings to cascade down the site, reducing the overall scale but to also address the level difference across the site and accentuate the importance of the entry forecourt into the overall complex. Security being a key priority for the GoPNG is addressed throughout both in relation to the control and management of persons awaiting trial but also to address the public access to the courts. This required consideration towards PNG customs and traditional approaches to the judicial process and how to better resolve these methodologies within the confines and management of a defined national legal framework.  As part of the design process the building also sought to increase its flexibility and introduce opportunities for large spaces to be used beyond their court functions.