Papua New Guinea’s newest landmark building will host what is being heralded as the biggest international event in Papua New Guineas history on 17 and 18 November 2018.

Prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Peter O’Neill approached Jim Fitzpatrick Architects in October 2016 to design an iconic building specifically for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meetings to be held in Port Moresby in November 2018.

The second ever purpose-built building to host an APEC Summit, APEC Haus, will provide the PNG Government with a notable facility of international standard to host the world leaders from 21 of the largest economies as they gather to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Director Jim Fitzpatrick responded with an architectural language based on the strong cultural symbolism evident in the traditional hiri trade of the Motu-Koitabu culture.

The dominant sculptural roof form of APEC Haus and the central public art piece are contemporary references to the unique crab-claw shape sails found on traditional motuan ‘lakatoi’ (lagatoi) boat used during trade journeys.

Fitzpatrick also referenced customary lakatoi tattoo markings in patterning throughout APEC Haus as motifs within sustainably sourced Papua New Guinea timbers.

“Prime Minister O’Neill and I originally sat down in 2013 when I first suggested and presented a lakatoi shaped building as a concept design as an APEC Summit building, so I wasn’t surprised when I received the a follow up call in October 2016 to complete the concept design,” says Fitzpatrick.

Jim Fitzpatrick Architects was also were engaged by Oil Search Limited as the Design Architect and Design Director of APEC Haus. The role included working directly with OSL to assure that the JFA’s concept design was upheld as it had been presented to and signed off by the PNG prime. Prime Minister, the APEC Authority and Oil Search.

APEC Haus has been project managed by Oil Search Limited under the Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme (TCS) for the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Conrad Gargett were subsequently engaged by Oil Search for the schematic design and documentation of APEC Haus under the direction ofJim Fitzpatrick Architects, before they were novated to the construction company CPB Contractors to complete the documentation and construction phases of the project.

“The irony is that when we celebrated the opening of APEC Haus on the 18 October 2018, it was three days short of exactly two years ago when the Prime Minister and I both sat down and together we worked through the final design brief of the building together” says Fitzpatrick.

Jim Fitzpatrick Architects practice manager (anthropologist and archaeologist) Ally Fitzpatrick says, “I’m pretty certain we got it right. There have been many emotional and rewarding moments. For example, while standing and watching the lakatoi sculpture being raised into place, I turned to talk to an older Motu-Koitabu builder who was standing next to me and he had tears streaming down his face. He told me that he was so proud of his people and of this building.”