From the architect:
The High Commission of Samoa in Australia was relocated to a new site in the diplomatic precinct of Yarralumla, ACT. The brief was to create a new Chancery that was an architectural interpretation of Samoa ‘looking forward’ while drawing inspiration from a rich cultural heritage.
The functional brief to be delivered was extensive - formal entry and large foyer space, offices, conference room, staff and public amenities, and outdoor public gathering spaces, as well as a self-contained 4-bedroom High Commissioner’s residence with moderate entertaining facilities, and had to be met within a cost-effective framework. Site planning is based on a strong north-south pedestrian spine running the full length of the site; a continuous security wall on the eastern side of the spine clearly separates the publicly accessible areas to the west from the secure areas for offices and residence to the east.
The design philosophy recognises traditional Samoan ‘Fale’ structures and the important role they play in day-to-day life as venues for communal activity. The design emphasis is therefore focused on the publicly accessible main foyer and associated external garden areas. Here the Fale, usually an arched timber structure with large timber columns and roof thatching, has been reinterpreted using contemporary materials - a robust palette of timber, concrete, steel, and brick. The simplified, expressive structure of the foyer deliberately emphasise the exposed ‘batons’ which project beyond the façade creating a striking entry point and public face to the High Commission.
The new High Commission is a public building of substance, quality, and craftsmanship, that now sits confidently amongst its neighbours in the heart of the national capital.