Unitec’s helping to conserve Samoan heritage
23 July 2012
Unitec with support from the governments of NZ, Samoa and Germany is undertaking research to help restore the Old Courthouse in Apia.
Unitec’s School of Architecture and Department of Management & Marketing are collaborating with Archifact Ltd conservation architects in Auckland to devise a conservation and implementation plan for the courthouse. They will also raise awareness of the importance of heritage and its conservation.
The Old Courthouse represents the changing history of the past century better than most other buildings in Samoa. It was designed and built in 1902, was opened in 1903 as a courthouse for the German colonial administration in Samoa, and extended in 1908-12. It was taken over by the New Zealand occupying forces in 1914 and used as their administration building for over forty years. It became the Samoan Government’s own Courthouse and seat of the Prime Minister of Samoa after the (re-) gaining of independence of Western Samoa in 1962.
Since then the building has been in use without interruption until 2010, when a new Ministry of Justice building was erected for the Samoan Government on the peninsula Mulinu’u, the traditional seat of Samoan governments, just outside Apia. Since then the Courthouse has been vacant and is falling into disrepair. However, it carries memories and stories of the past, which makes it part of the country’s heritage.
As a first step, a team from Archifact Ltd travelled to Apia in December 2011, using a high-tech 3D laser scanner to achieve accurate measurements of the building and an authentic depiction of its current conditions. In the first semester of 2012, a group of Unitec Master of Architecture students developed drawings and models to suggest possible ways of conserving the Courthouse, including developing alternatives for its future use focusing on cultural and social use, as well as the need for the building to generate revenue in order to support its maintenance.
For the next stage of the project, the research team is planning an exhibition to be held in the Courthouse itself from the August 2 to 8, 2012. Student proposals for the conservation and use of the building will be exhibited complemented by designs developed by the research team and information on the building’s history. The local community will be encouraged to comment on these proposals and help drive the design proposal.
If you would like more information or would like to make a contribution/donation towards the costs of the conservation plan, and particularly towards the costs of travel and set-up of the exhibition, please contact Dr. Christoph Schnoor on firstname.lastname@example.org, 09 815 4321 ext. 7168.