There have also been some successes. The rain water collection (possible from an iron roof but not from a sago leaf one!) works very well and the saw dust toilets work well with the mining staff but not with the villagers due to lack of education about what should be put down there!
The mining company asked me to submit a report of my research in return for the free accommodation I received. In this I also suggested that in future houses, they might like to place more emphasis on shade, vegetation and ventilation. The houses that I visited that were in shade for the hottest part of the day were infinitely cooler and much more pleasant to be in. Like the architecture of Glenn Murcutt and Lindsay Johnston, employing a secondary roof, allowing cool air to flow between the roofs, creates a cooling effect like that of sitting under a tree.
There are also differing expectations of comfort on Lihir Island. The expat community are not good role models for the Lihirians. They drive the shortest distances in large trucks, I was a rarity on the island - a white person walking! They also expect air conditioning everywhere. The type of cool achieved just with sea breezes does not meet expat expectations so consequently air conditioning can be seen blasting out all day and night all over the island. Already the village people are asking for this in their relocation houses. I am wondering if it is a lost cause after all, trying to create an alternative. The energy comes from a geothermal power station, which will disappear when the mine goes, possibly in 2050. So there is also the issue about if the Lihirians get used to power, how will they cope when the mine has gone? Solar panels have been installed on the Malie Island houses which seems to be mostly successful.
I am not quite sure why the mining company decided to build 6 concrete bungalows in Kunaiye (except for the obvious low maintenance reason) because the thermally massive material just causes the heat absorbed during the day to be emitted at night. This means the villagers are sleeping outside because it is too hot inside. The villagers only really use their houses for sleeping and storage. Social occasions occur outside and I always found them sitting outside under a tree or in shade. The concrete houses only allow for successful storage!
|The Assai designed house|
|Another example of an Assai designed house, they were deliberately varied in style|
|Showing how the villagers have built in underneath to allow the woman to sleep downstairs and to provide more space|
|Lack of vegetation around this house and no trees, meant these poor people were frying!|
|People cluster underneath the houses during the day as it is too hot upstairs|
|A few of the first type houses on Malie Island|