Na Bure Kalou I Degei - The Spirit House of Degei

Nalesu, Kate
Refiti, Albert
Patel, Rafik
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Master of Design
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Auckland University of Technology

Under the thrall of a tourist destination, the Fiji Islands have become the ideal place to holiday. Equipped with theme parks, lavish hotels and floating restaurants it is easy to see the appeal. The influence of 19th-century colonialism still remains on the towns and old buildings, and especially in the structure of modern Fiji. However, visitors and tourists are becoming increasingly aware of Fijian culture, in the way that they desire to see a part of the world that is different, that thinks differently than the way everyone else does. This study, therefore, aims to acknowledge these changes and to revisit and rehabilitate selected aspects of traditional Fijian culture through the design of a museum sited in Lautoka.

I begin by revisiting Fijian identity in reinterpreting the origin stories in Fijian cosmogonies through cosmogram drawings and investigating sites and places connected to these stories. The project entails the design for a museum for the original settlers on Viti Levu. The museum’s narrative follows the founding of Viti Levu, understanding the land, history, traditions, mythology and oral stories, related to Degei, the snake God. In doing so, the research addresses the following problems: the re-establishment of Fijian identity through new interpretation of Fijian cosmogonic stories from Viti, which leads to an attempt to spatialize a strategy to organize a building dedicated to the Fijian snake; the project also explores a narrative underlying cosmic understanding of identity and how these might create a new way to think and do architecture in the Pacific.

The project entails developing a Museum which is built upon the mythopraxis of the original settlers on Na Viti Levu (The Great Fiji). The Museum’s narrative follows the beginning of Viti, understanding the land, history, traditions, mythology and oral stories, investigating the role of Degei – the supreme Fijian snake God. Thus, I address the following questions;

How to re-establish Fijian identity through a cosmogonic interpretation of Viti literature and oral history to provide a spatial design strategy to organize a proposed museum located on Viti?; How will such a project explain a narrative underlying cosmic understanding of identity?

Fijian Culture , Mythology , Architecture , Cosmology , Pacific , Serpent , God , Snake , Fiji , Ba Province
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