Student Award of Excellence Winner
The University of British Columbia (Thesis Advisor: Raymond Cole, FRAIC)
Sea levels could rise several metres by the end of this century, while extreme weather events simultaneously increase in frequency and severity. These pressures are already beginning to force coastal populations to migrate to higher elevations.
Polyvalent Adaptations proposes to create networks of soft and hard infrastructures that meet current needs for resource independence, while also offering emergency support in the aftermath of severe storms. Ultimately, these infrastructures become armatures guiding new, more resilient settlement patterns.
The author chose Tongatapu, a low-lying island home to 70,000 Tongans—and a place that could lose half of its land to the ocean in the coming decades—as a test location.
The thesis takes the form of a narrative spanning from 2020 to 2080, centred on a Tongan named Fokai. When he is 17 and living on his family’s farm near the sea, the Vaota (“forest” in Tongan) is being developed as a new infrastructure strip, stretching the length of the island along the 20-metre elevation line. Planted with trees, it also contains resources such as a market and a water treatment facility. Over the course of Fokai’s lifetime, the pre-planned intensification of the Vaota enables it to become his refuge after a catastrophic hurricane and flood in 2045, and ultimately, the site of his new home in Tongatapu’s trans-planted capital.