Published on 16th January 2014
The Bougainville Library is a finalist in two categories in the NZ Wood Timber Design Awards. Wellington architect Paul Kerr-Hislop was asked by the Bougainville Library Trust to design the Library, or Haus Stori, in 2011. The Trust was founded by Mr Pip author Lloyd Jones after he returned from a visit to Bougainville in 2009, wanting to contribute to the region’s recovery. The Library was completed and opened in June 2013.
Volunteer Services Abroad has been involved from the beginning, with Wellington builder Barry Binding undertaking two assignments to oversee construction. At the time, Jones remarked “We couldn’t have got the project underway without VSA, and no one is more qualified or suited to the task than Barry. He spent two years in Bougainville, and he is held in very high esteem there.”
Challenged by Bougainville’s climate and less-than-reliable electricity supply, Kerr-Hislop designed the building “to allow as much air movement as possible”, as he explained in his award entry. The building has no windows, but is slatted and its low, wide roof keeps the interior as cool as possible.
Auckland librarian Philippa Robinson, on assignment at the Bougainville Library (or Haus Stori) for VSA, says the natural ventilation works incredibly well. “The power can be unreliable in Arawa so not having the need for air-conditioning, or ceiling fans, is really great for us. We have the sea on one side and the mountains on the other and the building has been designed to take full advantage of this. It is always a relief from the heat coming inside!”
Almost all the timber for the project was sourced and milled locally. The Haus Stori was built by trainee carpenters from Arawa Carpentry, which VSA helped to establish in 1999 to boost Bougainville’s reconstruction.
Binding, now back in Wellington, says using locally-sourced timber, bamboo and sak-sak (woven bamboo screens) added to the local economy but the main reason behind going local “was to bind the local community together so they had a feeling of ownership.”
It was a really important project to the people of Bougainville, he adds: “It’s a very special building and I was lucky to be there on the build… Paul Kerr-Hislop should be very proud of his design.”