Lakatoi tattoo

The main entry foyer of APEC Haus sweeps upwards to provide a dramatic orientation space that allows the visitor to understand the vertical circulation of the building. The vivid backdrop upon entering the main entry foyer is a sculptural curved screen made from sustainably sourced and selected Papua New Guinea timbers. The feature wall rises to the upper level function space providing a vertical screen to both floor levels and is connected to the first floor balcony. This wooden feature wall is perforated by motifs.

The motifs have been based on the traditional “lakatoi stepped tattoo” design on women (after Barton 1918). Barton suggests that the “lakatoi tattoo”, mostly found on the cheeks and nose of a woman, record that the woman’s father participated in several successful trading voyages. Barton (1918) also postulates that the design gives reference to the elbow of a bird wing. In a similar vein, female children of men who have commanded lakatoi trading boats may have a “lakatoi” (trading canoe) “dagina” (mark or sign) on their lower legs and feet (after Barton 1918).

It was not only important to JFA that sustainably sourced and selected Papua New Guinea timbers were used but that the screen was made locally in PNG. The wooden motif screen (and wooden motif perforated tiles found elsewhere in the building) provides feminine representation within the architectural symbolic response throughout APEC Haus of male lakatoi voyages.

APEC Haus - Lakatoi Tattoo Feature Screen – Image: Jim Fitzpatrick Architects