Masters Thesis, 2013
Advisors: Professors Martin Bressani and Aaron Sprecher

*Ping Kwan Lau Prize in Architecture for excellence in research, site analysis, and program preparation
*Régis Coté Graduate Prize in Design and Sustainability
*Canadian Architect Student Award of Excellence, nominee

This thesis proposes a utopian vision for the very real dystopian future of the Samoan islands: one that includes a depleted energy source, an insufficiency of agriculture, a lack of local economy, and a minimum two-meter rise in sea level. However catastrophic, these anticipated changes are seen as an opportunity for the emergence of a new typology. An elevated infrastructural backbone is proposed for the island off of which other program grows. The thesis explores the design of this spine along with an experimental village: the scale at which Samoan society functions. Unassailable from the dangers of a swelling sea, the project then begins to address the issues of energy, agriculture, and economy

Rather than domesticating the natural conditions and extreme topography, this project aims to exploit their true conditions. An elevated road runs around the island, navigating the slopes to connect even the most dramatic points, capturing a diverse range of conditions. Development clings to this road while allowing the majority of the island to remain untouched, as it has been for thousands of years, preserving the natural and sacred integrity of the mountains. Specific moments, such as the villages, interrupt this continuity responding to the surrounding site and capitalizing on its natural systems. There is an implied style of life in these emerging sites all the while maintaining familiar cultural conditions in an attempt at redefining Fa’a Samoa – ‘the Samoan way’.

1:1000 model, CNC milled and 3D printed

1:1000 model, CNC milled and 3D printed

Fa'a Samoa
The Samoan people have a strong cultural and spiritual tie with the sea. All villages on the island are coastal, and almost always linear and narrow in shape. The proposed typology maintains this important connection to the sea for centuries to come.

The largest 20 islands and their respective coastal boarders are delineated below.

A New World Economy: the internet's undersea world
The Samoan private sector is supported by tuna fishing, processing, and canning. However Japanese and Chinese ships are increasingly fishing in the region, decimating local fish populations. How does such a modest and unsustainable economy afford this dramatic yet necessary infrastructure overhaul? 

As South America and Asia continue to witness dramatic economic and population growth, new undersea fiber-optic cables are planned connecting the two regions. The Samoan island chain falls in the middle of this route, making it an ideal location for the cables to pass through. When this happens, Samoa becomes the fastest point on this groundbreaking network.

Source: The Guardian, via Submarine Cable Map, 2008

Source: The Guardian, via Submarine Cable Map, 2008

By 2050, financial institutions, social-media companies and more all want to house their data servers in Samoa. Aside from providing the fastest connection between Asia and South America, geothermal energy and cool ocean water provide cheap cooling solutions for the server farms. These activities fuel the economy allowing Samoa to retool their infrastructure in an age of rising seas.

Click to see fiber-optic cable evolution.