Reconnecting with the Past: Traditional Tongan architecture as an Educational Device for the Tongan People

Nonu, Folau
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The complexity of the traditional Tongan fale has decreased over time, but there is a need for architects to revive the essence and the cultural aspects of the fale. This research helps increase the understanding of traditional Tongan architecture and find ways to incorporate in teaching the people of Tonga about this aspect of Tongan culture. I have a great responsibility as a Tongan architect to study and gain knowledge about the fale and use that knowledge to educate my people. The traditional fale was more than just a building or shelter; it also helped to define the owner’s status in society. Every part of the fale provides a significant contribution to its function and has uses beyond those of the building itself. These parts and terminology are very seldom used because they hardly exist today, and the few people who still use this vocabulary are mostly elderly. The construction process of the fale was important to everyone in the community. Everyone one, from the children to the elderly, had important roles in construction. They worked together as if it was their own house they were building. This process shows that helping each other is a vital part of the Tongan culture. With the information and data from books, the internet, interviews and a survey, I hope to share my knowledge of the fale with the others and reveal its forms even in simple forms, such as bus stations.
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