Continuum: Reimagining the Future of an Arguably Broken Oceania

Izzat Ramli

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HERO IMAGE 01 muhammad izzat ramli
Continuum: Reimagining the Future of an Arguably Broken Oceania

It has been generally accepted in architectural history that Pacific architecture has its origins in Southeast Asia architecture; however, the connection between the two regions has seemed to deteriorate after Western imperialism.

The proposed theoretical thesis aims to reconstruct the Pacific’s consanguinity with the tropical region of Southeast Asia by tracing the ‘two episodes’ of Oceanic prehistoric sea voyaging and suggests the concept of ‘bigger Oceania’.

What is the concept of Oceania in this thesis?
Generally, Oceania is a term used to classify a specific geographical boundary in the Pacific region. Within this are smaller groups of islands historically classified as Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. These three large groups of islands contain hundreds of islands, which are presently perceived as micro countries by cause of the confined political boundaries drawn after the colonisation era; to serve the interests of imperialism and neo-colonialism.

The misconception of the Pacific Islands’ perceived smallness limits the understanding of Oceania to just the size of each visible land. Although the island seems fragmented from the outside, it was bridged by the Ocean, through voyaging. The voyaging contributes to cultural exchange, resources and knowledge.

The strong connection between the islands in the Pacific set a strong foundation for forming a regional identity – “New Oceania”, a visionary plan forged by Epeli Hau‘ofa. The shared identity would empower each local identity and uplift the role of Oceania, no longer viewed as tiny nations but a large cultural nation. This thesis would explore the extension of collaborative Oceania by tracing the Oceanic cultural history of migration and suggesting a ‘bigger Oceania’.



This thesis aspires to embrace the sense of empowerment implicit in Epeli Hau‘ofa’s vision. The past body of research has set the sail for a new exploration of indigenous ideology and thinking.

This thesis voyage will try to reimagine the relevance of Oceanic indigenous solutions in our contemporary world. The rebuilding process does not mean trying too hard to fit in with what we see as the conventional way of living right now, which might lead to a loss of true identity and thinking.

Therefore, this thesis also challenges the conventional way of living and proposes a new and true way of living based on Oceanic regional and local identity. In this thesis, the connectivity between Oceanic cultures is expressed through the structural and spatial configurations of boats and architecture.


Finished Product

The proposed speculative project aims to reconstruct the Pacific’s consanguinity with Southeast Asia by speculatively reimagining Indonesia’s capital city’s relocation plan from Java to Borneo.

The narrative of this project displays the continuum of visionary thinking of Oceanic philosophy and sophisticated engineering of indigenous Oceanic tectonic, which are explored to solve contemporary problems like sea level rise, deforestation and indigenous community gentrification.

The project shows that indigenous architecture could be translated through their technology intricacy and understanding of spatial tectonic instead of simply imitating the forms or limiting it as a façade treatment. The imitation product might ‘look’ like one, but holistically, it does not function, respond or serve like the indigenous reference. This project is about Borneo, but it could become an example or reference for other Oceanic countries to develop their solution. We are the experts at sea, and if there is sea-level rise, we, Oceanic people, need to show the world how to live and adapt with it.


Critic's Text

Supervising the development of Izzat’s MArch(Prof) thesis was a privilege. His energetic curiosity into the cultural histories of Oceania led to the development of fascinating combinations of formal, material and intellectual explorations. His identification of the common threads within Pacific tectonics and etymologies, initially across the boats that traversed the ocean and later into the houses that they developed into, established a coherent investigative process for the thesis.

While this might have steered the thesis towards an anthropological theme, Izzat’s knowledge of oceanic technical and cultural development led him to adopt a speculative design engaging with contemporary environmental and political problems besetting the region. His project was wonderfully extreme and beautifully realised in crafted three-dimensional models and imagery.

Izzat’s thesis is an important contribution to a growing body of post-graduate oceanic design research undertaken by students at Te Pare: School of Architecture and Planning University of Auckland.

-Dr Jeremy Treadwell, supervisor