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Our projects have been broken up into four categories: Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience, Indigenous & Traditional Knowledge & the Built Environment, Inclusive Urbanism, and Community Building. These categories are reflective of ‘Ike Honua’s values and objectives.


Global climate change is the single greatest threat of our time. Communities, structures, our land and seas, and even entire cultures are threatened by the impacts of global climate change. From addressing the challenges of climate change forced the displacement of entire populations, to crumbling infrastructure and vulnerable built environments, we are working with communities across the globe to create and implement adaptation strategies, drawing on local knowledge to build resilience from within.



The island life reverberates across the Pacific. Rekindling the spirit of Kiribati, our proposal supports family, collective action, the sharing of resources, and the re-activation of indigenous knowledge. Togetherness is at the center.

Connecting to the past to rebuild the future utilizes decentralized housing to share key resources like the cookhouse and agri/aqua-culture. The development supports a vision of the Kainga as villages float and a vision of island life as paradise.



SDA School Laura Campus

The Seventh Day Adventist Church reached out to Metaamo Studio and Dr. Miller to assist in the master planning and design of their K-12 school in Laura Village. After conducting initial site visits and speaking with the city council, the community determined the need for an emergency shelter in the area. We are using the school design as an opportunity to create a resilience hub in Laura village and to develop capacity within the community. Together with the SDA School, the City Council, and the community we are working toward a Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction strategy that will incorporate emergency preparedness into the design of the school - as a central component to the community. In February 2020, we will conduct a participatory design workshop with the community and the SDA Laura school to develop a shared vision that improves the wellbeing of the village and improves overall community resilience.



Co-Designing Disaster Risk Reduction

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is facing the detrimental impacts of climate change, most notably through sea level rise. These environmental risks are compounded by broader social issues, such as lack of access to education and expertise, which are needed to increase civic capacity and climate resilience. This applied research project looks to provide a model for co-designing disaster risk reduction through the democratic design of K-12 education facilities.
This project integrates two strategies for incorporating community stakeholders within development decisions: (1) community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR), which provides a method for assessing risk, building capacity, and assisting in climate change adaptation, and (2) participatory design, which brings the community into the design process.



Process-Based Dwelling Ecosystem for Pacific Atoll Nations

This research project examines traditional, vernacular, and contemporary housing in the Republic of the Marshall Islands in an effort to develop improved housing solutions that are affordable, culturally supportive, adaptive, and resilient. Through a systems design approach, we examine and integrate a more holistic approach to housing design and development. These areas include: cultural practice, socio-spatial patterns, innovative material use, resource chains, economic development strategies, agroforestry, transportation, climate change adaptation and resilience, and strategic collaboration and partnerships.


Knowledge is power. In many societies, knowledge is held by elders, kept secure, and only passed-down to those deserving of its power. These knowledge systems, born of place-based practices, aided community survival and ensured that the land and its resources would be passed down seven generations into the future. Using deep time as an analytical tool, we examine the impact of Indigenous and Traditional knowledge systems in the construction of sustainable and culturally supportive built environments. Examining urban environments through a postcolonial lens demonstrates the resilience of these knowledge systems and their contribution to spatial justice and urban resilience.


Continuity of Deep Cultural Patterns

In the era of Global Climate Change, forced displacement and resettlement will affect coastal communities around the world. Through resettlement, the local production of culturally supportive environments can mitigate culture-loss. While previous vernacular architecture studies suggest that the influence of imported architecture leads to culture change, Dr. Miller’s study investigates the continuity of generative structures in the production of culturally supportive built-environments, demonstrating resilience. In addition, this study expands the discourse on the dialectic relationship between culture and the environment by investigating the role of Indigenous Design Knowledge in the production of culturally supportive space.



Indigenous Placemaking in the Marshallese Climate Diaspora

How is Indigenous Knowledge used in the production of culturally supportive built environments for transnational Indigenous communities?

This study investigates the role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in the transnational placemaking of Indigenous communities. Within growing transnational networks of communities facing climate change impacts, the aim of the study is to understand how IKS is maintained through placemaking.



Kua O Ka La Hawaiian School

On July 11, 2018, Kua O ka La was consumed by lava from the Kilauea volcanic eruption, destroying the school and administrative buildings, greenhouses, fish ponds, and archaeological sites. What was once an amazing learning laboratory for place-based, cultural learning was gone. On July 11, 2019, I reached out to Susie Osborne the director to provide pro-bono assistance in a recovery plan for a new school. To date, we have assisted with a strategic vision for the adaptive reuse of the Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii. The goal is to center the adaptive reuse within a Hawaiian design methodology that prioritizes place-based, cultural learning.


In our design projects, research, and when working with communities, we are responsible for creating spaces that are equitable for all people. ‘Ike Honua’s projects are designed in a way that mindfully engages communities with an emphasis on accounting for marginalized and vulnerable populations, promoting human rights for all people.


Marshallese Placemaking in Arkansas

This study looks at the place identity being established by transnational Marshallese families in Northwest Arkansas and Portland, Oregon. Utilizing a multi-sited case study methodology, a narrative of three families with active networks between each region and at least one atoll in the Marshall Islands is developed. This study attempts to develop a correlation between Marshallese place identity in the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. By understanding the cultural spatial patterns inherent in everyday life that span the three regions, we can begin to understand which patterns are most important for cultural continuity within the context of the United States, and we may begin to understand what will happen within these enclaves when their ties to the homeland are severed as they become uninhabitable due to sea level rise and climate change.



The Resilience of a Traditional Settlement Pattern in Post-disaster Haiti

A primary settlement pattern of the Haitian, Creole culture is the lakou, a spatial manifestation of the familial social structure. The lakou takes the form of a courtyard or compound. Dr. James Miller’s study identifies and studies the lakou in post-disaster tent cities and transitional settlements. The methodology established the importance of the lakou in community vibrancy and resilience and describe how the lakou adds to the health and resilience of the survivors living in such settlements.



CIT: The Phoenix Building + Plaza 122

The Phoenix building was a proposed adaptive re-use development for Mercy Corps Northwest’s new Community Investment Trust - REIT. The Community Investment Trust is a unique financing and investment structure for community based real estate development and ownership developed by John Haines and Mercy Corps Northwest. The CIT offers a long-term path to collective, communal ownership of real-estate for investors from $10 - $100 /month.

I assisted John in the assessment for the adaptive reuse of the historic Phoenix building in Southeast Portland. The proposed design and viable proforma consisted of a restaurant, retail, offices, and light industrial/ storage within the turn-of-the- century pharmacy building. I completed the feasibility study and schematic design to meet John’s proforma. Unfortunately, the Phoenix development was too risky for the first CIT. Instead John and Mercy Corps NW decided to test the CIT on a low-risk already performing development, Plaza 122 in East Portland.

I collaborated with the Howard Davis, Drew Shriener, the University of Oregon School of Architecture, Portland, and John to assist Mercy Corps NW’s new clients at Plaza 122 improve their existing spaces. This program was UO Portland Design Assistance | Design Build, a partnership between UO students and faculty in the UO Department of Architecture.


The vitality of our communities depends on strong community relationships and economic opportunities. James Miller and the ‘Ike Honua teamwork to enhance community vitality by engaging communities, forming partnerships with local organizations, businesses, and leaders, and embracing cultural capital.




Housing Conditions Assessment of Namdrik Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands

The Republic of the Marshall Islands consists of 32 atolls, of which 24 are inhabited, and the majority of the land sits no more than ten feet above sea level. Namdrik atoll is one of the southernmost atoll communities on the Ralik Chain with a population of 508 people and 97 households (2011 Census).

Following a 2016 assessment of housing conditions on Namdrik and the availability of resources for repair and reconstruction, it was determined that of the 92 houses documented, over 50% were in need of repairs to protect against inclement weather and tropical storms. In addition, very few houses met standards for protection against typhoons and flooding.

This assessment done by Dr. Miller provides a good snapshot of the rural housing conditions in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. With the pressing concern for Climate Change Adaptation, immediate action is required for building resilient housing.



Coconut Lumber House

The cost of supplying imported materials (lumber, concrete, steel, aluminium, etc.) to remote communities in Oceania is very high, and local residents lack the resources to make recommended housing repairs and adaptations to improve resilience in the face of natural hazards. In the Marshall Islands, a $1000 Grants & Aid loan delivers on some repair needs but falls short from providing needed island wide renovations. In remote Oceania, an abundance of senile coconut palms provide an excellent opportunity for housing material needs. In places like the Marshall Islands, milling equipment has already been made available; only resource processing and expertise is needed to convert palm lumber into construction material. We are working on combining traditional construction knowledge and modern techniques for wood construction to meet housing needs and improve resources chains for remote communities in Oceania.



3847 Lawrence Community Design

3847 Lawrence is part of Toronto Community Housing and located in and underserved area of Scarborough in the Greater Toronto Area. We are currently working on a pilot initiative between OCAD University’s Department of Environmental Design, Toronto Community Housing, and Parks People to assist the community at 3847 Lawrence improve community areas through small-scale participatory design projects. The pilot project will be a part of Dr. Miller’s Inclusive Design course taught in the Winter 2020.


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