Preserving culture and heritage in the Seychelles : investigating architecture in an independent and remote island state, an ex -colony with a rich history & cultural diversity

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Authors
Pillay, Samuel Selby
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Degree
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Grantor
Unitec Institute of Technology
Date
2019
Supervisors
Francis, Kerry
Budgett, Jeanette
McPherson, Peter
Type
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
Victoria (Seychelles)
Seychelles
cultural centres
museums
museum design
architecture and culture
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Citation
Pillay, S. S. (2019). Preserving culture and heritage in the Seychelles : investigating architecture in an independent and remote island state, an ex -colony with a rich history & cultural diversity. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4853
Abstract
RESEARCH QUESTION: How might architecture promote the culture and heritage of the Seychelles, while also reflecting a contemporary and vibrant architectural culture? ABSTRACT: For many, the Seychelles conjures images of white sandy beaches, clear blue sea waters and lush vegetation. This is the common view of what tropical islands are. Yet, today, as an independent island state, the Seychelles also has a multifaceted history and rich culture which is the result of a unique mix of people, who are descendants of African slaves, Chinese and Indian traders and servants, and French and British colonists. The influence of Western and European architecture and lifestyle and a combination of several other factors, after its independence in the mid-1970s, led to the decline in popularity of traditional Creole architecture, and so did the importance placed on its culture. Today buildings built in the Seychelles are poorly adapted to its hot tropical climate. Nevertheless, the evolution of architecture in the Seychelles is inevitable, but how can it ensure that its culture and heritage does not fade in the process? This paper aims to achieve this, first by plotting the course of architecture of the Seychelles through analysing buildings built during colonial and post-colonial periods. The theory about the way islands are perceived is also investigated, particularly through what Uma Kothari and Rorden Wilkinson refer to as “island imaginaries”. In their article, they highlight the risks associated with the usage of this concept by small island states. It is also found that the demise of traditional Creole architecture may be linked with modernism and globalisation, as ascertained by British architect, Robert Adam. The threat cultural homogenisation poses underscores more reasons for the diverse culture of the Seychelles to be protected. Consequently, relevant precedents such as Renzo Piano’s Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre is analysed, as the design was directly influenced by the culture of a people. Additionally, African slaves are an underappreciated part of the Seychelles’ cultural legacy; this paper aims to rectify this. Therefore, a precedent which deals with a similarly sensitive subject matter was also analysed: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Informed by this research, along with the conditions of the Seychelles based site, this research project proposes the design of a cultural centre with a museum component. A search for initial form is done by using a method where the Seychelles’ artefacts, heritage items, and cultural practices are analysed and ‘architecturalised’. Guided by the requirements of a museum, the cultural centre and museum programme are then applied. It is hoped that the culmination of this research paper will add to the scope of culture-inspired architecture; and that its culture and heritage can be a source of inspiration for its self-promotion, and for artistic, as well as architectural expression.
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