Monier Terracotta Nullarbor - Perfectly Pitched

Monier Terracotta Nullarbor - Perfectly Pitched


With a design inspired by the vernacular architectural forms and unique style of the Solomon's, the recently completed Solomon Islands High Commission (SHIC) in Canberra has become an impressive addition to the architectural diversity that is the diplomatic precinct of our nation's capital.

The journey to construct this embassy began in 2008 when the SIHC Chancery Committee called for 'expressions of interest' to design a new building that would interpret the Solomon's rich cultural traditions, whilst providing a modern facility that would serve its diplomatic mission and objectives; with submissions made and presentations completed, BHI Architects were awarded the contract to design this prestigious facility.

Preliminary design work commenced in early 2009, with a BHI delegation travelling to the Solomon Islands to meet with government officials and representatives of the Chancery Committee for a comprehensive project briefing. Rosina Priest, lead architect for the development adds "The trip also provided the project team with an invaluable 'hands-on' opportunity to experience the traditional architecture of the region; its construction methods; building materials and importantly their significance and relationship to village life".

Rosina adds "The challenge of course was how to reinterpret the relaxed tropical style of the Island buildings, into the formal setting that would occupy the embassy site within the nation's capital".

The ensuing design was an inspiring interpretation of a typical Solomon Islands village. At its centre, the 'motu' or 'fire pit' forms the facilities focal point along with the 'TOCA' a traditional outdoor meeting space, this central point is the axis from which the sites public and residential buildings radiate from. And it's from this vantage point that the true architectural splendour of the project can be fully appreciated.

Most notably, the soaring roof lines so typical of 'Island architecture' dominate the facilities skyline. These expansive roof areas, steeply pitched at 45° are an integral design element, and make up a significant part of each building's façade. Additionally, the main public building features a central gable with a roof pitch of 60°, this imposing roof line forms the canopy for the impressive entrance lobby that greets its guests with its towering timber lined raked ceiling.


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