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Students design and build for Vanuatu

by Kelly Stone

Traditional construction methods used in Port Resolution.Traditional construction methods used in Port Resolution.

Through an award-winning experiential learning project, UniSA is designing and constructing visitor accommodation for a remote Vanuatu community so that tourism will help local villagers afford education for their children.

The UniSA Design-Build team is currently fundraising towards the group’s next trip to Port Resolution on Vanuatu’s Tanna Island, where they hope to start constructing tourist bungalows.

David Morris (centre) at Port Resolution.David Morris (centre)
at Port Resolution.

UniSA Design and Construction Program Director David Morris (pictured right), who won a 2013 Learning and Teaching Award for enhancing architecture and design education through projects such as this one, says students have been busy holding bake sales and barbecues to raise the $10,000 required to get the group to Tanna Island in July to undertake the first phase of construction.

Morris says the project team has so far organised three trips to Port Resolution, with the fourth planned for next month.

He says the first trip was back in 2012 to survey the land and develop a design proposal.

“The second trip was in 2013, when we set out the locations for the bungalows and main building,” Morris says.

“We returned in April this year to set out the solar power, water supply and waste water services.

“Our fourth group is set to travel in July to start the construction of the project.

“We need to raise the funds to install the below-ground plumbing and electrical conduits and to pour the slabs for the toilet and shower facilities attached to each of the proposed six bungalows.”

One student involved in the project is 22-year-old Laura Searson, who is studying a Bachelor of Interior Architecture.

Laura says the immediate aim of the project is to provide the community of Port Resolution with an opportunity to generate income for their children’s secondary school education.

“While primary schooling in Vanuatu is free, secondary schooling requires fees which are often beyond the means of most families, limiting the opportunity for a child to complete secondary and, therefore, any further education,” Laura says.

“These financial limitations perpetuate Vanuatu’s dependence on foreign aid.

Students go over the construction plans with local villagers in Port Resolution.Students go over the construction plans with local villagers in Port Resolution.

“In contrast to their financial limitations, the Port Resolution community is blessed with natural resources such as food and timber in an exquisite tropical island setting of palm trees, white beaches, coral reefs and hot springs, and not to mention Mount Yasur, the active volcano nearby.

“The project will allow the community to harness the island’s tourism potential to set up a trust fund for the education of their children.”

The longer term aim of the project is to establish a community-based business enterprise which can be replicated in other communities to help preserve ownership of traditional land and culture. This aim proposes to draw upon the technical, health, tourism, managerial and financial expertise within the University in partnership with the Australian Government’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training Program to assist the community in building capacity to manage and maintain the project.

To support the Port Resolution Project, like their Facebook page and read more at the Go Fund Me page.