Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop to design courthouse in Vanuatu


Australian architectural practice Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop (WMCQIA) has won an international design competition to design a courthouse in Vanuatu by integrating transparent setting with the local cultural aspects.


The AUD$32.5 million ($26.9 million approx) courthouse will be built on the existing vacant courthouse site. WMCQIA is working in association with Professor Graham Brawn to design the courthouse building, which addresses a number of functions and challenges.

The architects have to face the challenge of creating a modern building that communicates the importance and symbolism associated with the Supreme Court of Vanuatu. The building should be incorporated with adaptable and flexible spaces that can meet local Melanesian customary court uses as well as respect the historic court values and systems brought with the British and French Colonial era.

WMCQIA should conceive a design that should be influenced by the social, lifestyle and cultural aspects of the local Melanesian people, as it is expected that people from traditional settings from outer islands will also attend the new court building.

WMCQIA has proposed a design wherein the spaces will not only have open and transparent layout, but will also provide the necessary security associated with a typical court building. The courthouse and the surroundings will reflect this approach throughout.

The environmental requirements demanded by a tropical and seismic environment will also be taken care of. The Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) principles of shelter and cross-ventilation are used throughout the design. This will create comfortable spaces similar to traditional building types.

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