High Commission of Samoa in Australia

Yarralumla, Australian Capital Territory

The brief from the Samoan Government was to create an architectural interpretation of Samoa ‘looking forward’ while drawing inspiration from their rich cultural heritage.

The design philosophy was based on recognition of the traditional Samoan ‘Fale’ structures and the important role they play in the day to day communal activities at all levels of Samoan society.

The Fale structures are built in either circular or rectangular plan form and utilise arched timber roof structures, thatching, and heavy timber columns. The Fale is an important open meeting place while more private family activities are held in separate, simpler enclosures. The design emphasis is therefore focussed on the publicly accessible main foyer and associated external garden areas.

The layered and exposed nature of the traditional Fale roof structures have been reinterpreted using modern materials and reference traditional forms by deliberately emphasising the exposed ‘batons’ which project out beyond the enclosed foyer space.

The brief required Chancery functions including formal entry and large foyer space, offices, conference room, staff and public amenities, and outdoor public gathering spaces. In addition, a self-contained 4-bedroom High Commissioner’s residence with moderate entertaining facilities was also desired.

Site planning is based on a strong north- south pedestrian spine running the full length of the site; a continuous security wall on the eastern side of the spine clearly separates the publicly accessible areas to the west from the secure areas for offices and residence to the east.
The significant gradient within the site required major site benching and allowed the opportunity to utilise the traditional Fale construction technique of placing the building up on a raised stone platform.

The landscaping incorporates a carefully modulated series of curved 1:20 ramped pathways in the main central garden providing easy access between residence and Chancery.


  • Awards
  • Technical Information
  • Cox Team

Commendation, Public Architecture, AIA ACT 2018

High Commission of Samoa in Australia
Project Status
Complete, 2017
Key Consultants
Harris Hobbs Landscape Architecture
Contractor / Builder
Manteena Pty Ltd
Gross Floor Area
1060 m2
Jennifer Salter