Build Back Better

Following an 8.2 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the Western, Choisel and Shortland Provinces of the Solomon Islands. 10% of the countries population were displaced. The island of Ranongga was lifted permanently out of the sea 4m and the Island of Simbo subsided. Thousands of village homes were destroyed and communities lost confidence in the way they were built.

In response David Kaunitz managed Build Back Better workshops to train village carpenters and give communities confidence to recover. He did this with a local team, Frank Sito (school principle / trainer), Simon Hong (builder), Simon Alepio (builder), Patty (Boat Driver). Workshops were carried out in central villages and trained village carpenters in surrounding communities.

To train and develop local capacity to enable communities to use their own resources and NGO assistance to rebuild and repair village houses.

David developed with structural engineer Davina Rooney 6 principles of building back details. Each was designed to use local materials and techniques such as notching instead of bolting.

  1. Foundation detail.
  2. Post / bearer connection.
  3. Sub floor cross bracing.
  4. Stud / post connection.
  5. Roof tie down.
  6. Wall / roof bracing.

The workshops covered 3 days and included:

  • Theory of why the disaster happened and caused the damage. This was to demystify the disaster.
  • Theory around standard details and cross bracing. Using drawings and models.
  • Practical demonstration on setting out a building.
  • Practical demonstration on foundation detail.
  • Practical demonstration on notched cross bracing detail.
  • Practical demonstration jacking and pulling leaving houses.

As a result 300 village carpenters were trained. Simon Alepio continued this program focusing on the disaster mitigation measures such as cross bracing for a further 3 years.

Western Province Solomon Islands

World Vision International

World Vision Response Manager: Brett Cowling, Engineering: Davina Rooney


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, please be aware the Kaunitz Yeung Architecture website contains images of deceased persons.

The Kaunitz Yeung Architecture team acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation.
We recognise the original Custodians of Country, their ongoing connection to the land, sky, seas, cultures and communities - paying our respects to Elders, past and present.