Housing Around the World – Fiji

Fiji

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The Fiji Islands are an island nation located in the south western portion of the Pacific Ocean.  Fiji has a tropical marine climate, with the year low coming to about 22°C.

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Since the climate is overall very hot, there is a need for cool housing to escape from the extreme heat.  The perfect solution to a need for cool housing is a Fijian bure.

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A traditional Fijian type of housing is a Bure. The word Bure translates to English as a wood and straw hut, similar to a cabin. As the translation suggests, Bures are made out of straw and wood, and the materials are usually stacked together or tied together with rope. The floors in bures were packed down dirt or clay covered up with coconut leaf mats.

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In traditional Fijian history, a family’s house was called a “vale” while men’s houses were called “bures”. These Fijian houses are very dark and dim inside, with no windows providing natural light. The only sunlight that would enter a bure would be from the single door at the front of the house. Certain rooms in vales were sometimes gender oriented, like a spot for a hearth where the women would cook.  Since bures do not allow natural sunlight, they generally keep a cool temperature on the inside, to the relief of its residents.  This fulfills their need to feel comfortable in their houses.

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A Fijian bure is typically the equivalent of a Western bungalow. Traditional bures do not have plumbing and electricity, but Fiji has adapted these elements their bures to make them somewhat of a tourist attraction or resort for visitors to stay. Your typical Fijian bure today would come equipped with luxurious furniture, full plumbing and electricity, and many windows and doors.

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Although most Fijians have moved onto living in more modern housing environments, many bures still exist to this day, with mostly Aboriginals or tribes living in them.  A bure, to this day, is still the most popular form of housing for rural residents of Fiji.

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