PORT VILA TO GET $27 MILLION COURTHOUSE

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New facility replaces burned wooden structure

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 24, 2010) - Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop (WMCQIA) has won an international design competition to deliver a courthouse building for the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu.

The new building, [to cost] just under AU$32.5 million [US$27 million], will be built on the existing courthouse site, which has been empty since the previous timber colonial Courthouse building was burnt down in 2007.

WMCQIA are working with Professor Graham Brawn to design a courthouse which addresses a number of functions and challenges.

One of these key challenges is to create a modern courthouse building which conveys the importance and symbolism associated with the Supreme Court of Vanuatu.

The building must provide adaptable spaces with the flexibility to meet local Melanesian customary court uses, while still respecting the historic court values and systems brought with the British and French Colonial era.

The design is heavily influenced by the social, lifestyle and cultural aspects of the local Melanesian people. In many cases, people will be travelling from the outer islands, often from very traditional settings, to attend the new court building.

WMCQIA’s response is to design spaces which achieve a sense of openness and transparency, while still providing the necessary security associated with a typical court building. This approach will be carried through the site, and the overall experience of the courthouse and its surroundings.

The design also physically addresses the environmental requirements demanded by a tropical and seismic environment.

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) principles of shelter and cross-ventilation are used throughout the design to create comfortable spaces which are similar to traditional building types.

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