Fale Pasifika

Completion date
Education, Cultural & Civic
Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture

Fale Pasifika is the centrepiece of the University of Auckland’s Pacific Studies development. In under taking this project,the key challenge was to construct a building that represented the shape and function of a traditional Fale, while also meeting the structural criteria of the NZ building code and providing protection from the Auckland climate.

In order to do this, a cultural advisory group representing the seven island nations was established. This team met every month for design consultation. The design team also worked closely with artist Albert Rififi, who advised on cultural issues and coordinated artists producing representations of the seven nations. One of these by Tania Short depicts a series of landscape gestures based on maritime and navigational themes that support traditional and contemporary notions of pacific culture.

The two major components of Fale Pasifika are the Fale and the Academic Wing. The Fale’s form and structure is based on the traditional Samoan fale, its high roof measures 11 metres which enables natural light to flood in through the transparent sides of the structure. Fresh air is introduced at low levels and extracted through vents in the roof, allowing the Fale to primarily operate without artificial lighting or air conditioning.

The Fale is relatively simple in terms of basic structural concepts. It comprises a rectangular central portion with rounded ends, and is designed to accommodate 300. People in the customary seating arrangements for hosts and guests.

The landscape component consists of a malae – a traditional public space where meetings are held, culturally themed planted areas, and a lawn scattered with mature palm trees which functions as an informal recreational area or gathering space for educational and cultural events


  • 2005 NZIA – Resene Local Award for Architecture – Education
  • 2005 Property Council of New Zealand Rider Hunt Building Award – Merit, The Telecom New Zealand Limited Education and Arts Property Award
  • 2005 Year of the Build Environment Award – New Zealand Finalist

Other team members

James Foote Registered Architect Auckland
Ivan Mercep Registered Architect Auckland
Phone09 366 9626 Save Contact
Peter Milivojevic Architecture
Joseph Muir Senior Landscape Architect - Senior Associate Auckland
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