Building Health Hardware in Papua New Guinea

Sustainable facilities for improved health outcomes

The University of Melbourne (Bower Studio) joined with the University of Technology Lae and the Sipaia community in 2012 to build three innovative composting toilets. The two universities had previously worked together in 2010 developing a pilot project to provide fresh drinking water in two communities. The success of that project led to the formation of a new team of eighteen masters level architecture and landscape architecture students from Melbourne and Lae working alongside Sipaia residents.

Poor access to sanitary hardware is contributing to ongoing health problems for residents of the seaside communities in Lae. Existing toilet facilities, inadequate to the needs of the community, do not properly deal with human waste and are unsafe at night. With funding from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby the team designed and constructed the toilets to improve the health and well being of the community and test new ways to minimise the impact of human waste on the environment. The newly improved toilet facilities provide a secure place to collect and treat waste and remain unaffected by tides or floods. They are lit with solar lights at night, are constructed with community assistance and are locally managed in such a way as to ensure that the overall project remains sustainable over the long-term.

For full details please visit the Sipaia, PNG project at the Bower Studio website.

See also the Morobe Province, PNG project at the Bower Studio website which involved building pavilions incorporating fresh water collecting facilities in remote villages.

Project Details

Major Sponsor

Australian Government Heads of Mission Direct Aid Program

University of Melbourne John McIlwraith Fund

Project Partners

Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, The University of Melbourne
Department of Forestry, Papua New Guinea University of Technology
Department of Architecture and Building, Papua New Guinea University of Technology

Industry Partners

Mainland Holdings PNG
Natural Directions


Dr David O'Brien