Wendy Christie

Future Housing in Vanuatu: A design framework for contextually appropriate urban housing in Vanuatu

PhD candidate

  • Wendy Christie



Funded by

  • Monash University

This practice-based PhD project will generate speculative design propositions for future housing in Vanuatu, which are expected to promote debate, challenge expectations and ultimately influence housing policy in the region.

Dr Duncan Maxwell

Rapid urbanisation in the Pacific Islands region has resulted in a higher demand for housing in urban and peri-urban areas, leading to overcrowding and inadequate living conditions, which have known links to poor health and social outcomes.  Vanuatu has one of the highest urban growth rates in the region and Port Vila, the capital city, is characterised by structurally unsafe and unsanitary makeshift dwellings.

The absence of a national housing policy and limited residential building control reveals that that there no clear route to achieving adequate urban housing in Vanuatu. While it is not possible to immediately these conditions, a housing policy would provide a pathway to better-quality housing, enabling Vanuatu to fulfill its obligation under the United Nations Right to Adequate Housing.

This practice-based PhD investigates appropriate housing design for urban areas in Vanuatu.  It argues that housing design should inform housing policy to facilitate culturally and place-specific living environments and construction processes. Combining insights by local stakeholders with place-specific and multi-scalar design explorations, the research will develop design processes and case studies for urban housing in Port Vila.  These will lead to a set of design guidelines to inform policy makers, architects and building designers in Vanuatu, and encourage the development of a national housing policy. The established design guidelines will aim to provide a template that can be adopted by other independent Small Island Developing States in the Pacific Islands region.