Mila Makasini Navigating Culture
SchoolOTAGO POLYTECHNIC ARCHITECTURE
TALANOA - NARRATIVE - Polynesia is defined by the archipelago of New Zealand, Hawaii & Rapa Nui. Our people interpret the Ocean not as space that divides but place that connects. Voyagers navigated the seas in search of life and land. Looking to the Constellations, life was mobile, never stagnant. On arrival upturning their canoes adapting technologies of boat building in architecture.
Vernacular of the Pacific is responsive, durable, and enduring. Prioritising flexibility and movement. The architecture is open to Sea and Sky. Lightness and the wind are more durable and enduring than stone.
FALE ROOF - Stability and Protection, Tradition, Customs, Order. Past and known.
CRAB CLAW SAIL - Innovation, Voyaging, Technology, Way finding. Future, Chaos and Unknown. Durability
CONSTELLATIONS – Navigation, Paradigm of Spiral Time - an open-ended portrait of life and death, the individual is placed in a moment of simultaneously, remembering the past, grounding in the present and moving to the future, never arriving.
These three forms woven together form a place celebrating the culture of Polynesia.
The project has manifested in a cultural centre in the harbour of Otago. Aiming not for a Fale replica but a contemporary interpretation. Making place that explores, our culture and values, to experience and practice our culture.
A non-prescriptive program means people navigate and wayfind individual paths rendering us as not merely observers but a part of the story.
The superstructure is a timber roof which in section is a pointed arch and in elevation is a sail. The cruciform plan is an interpretation of the Southern Cross Constellation.
The vertical envelope is a glass curtain. A colonnade of columns tie the curtain wall to the superstructure. At the entry, the custom of welcoming and reception would take place.
A central core houses amenities and services. The core supports tapering pathways to upper decks. The first deck an informal place - a viewing deck of the ocean and mountains. It may also be used as a secondary seating area to view performances in the main hall.
The second deck is an open area for formal events such as Kava ceremony.
Constellations are reflected in the ceiling plane. Star paths are mapped using light modules scattering the expanse, in a winding gradual curve, eventually meeting the glass curtain, here the paths are not interrupted but continue out into the beyond.
A ramp on the Southern end leads to a jetty connecting us directly to the open Ocean.
The form sits over the edge of the water, simultaneously connecting to Sea and Land forming a place of arrival and departure. Timber, clear glazing, and water have been the key materials of selection. These materials have the qualities of durability, lightness, and impermanence.
This place has life. For life there must be death. Therefore, the decay and deterioration of materials must be understood and accepted.
This Polynesian Cultural Centre's sensory experience will be like standing in a woven basket, gathering people together in community, moving through time and place.