Secondary navigation

Indigenous flat pack housing

Two key issues mediating social disadvantage in remote Aboriginal communities are (1) the lack of affordable housing and (2) the lack of local employment and enterprise. Recent developments in sustainable modular housing design and construction now enable remote housing to be assembled, maintained and repaired by locally trained people at 25-40% of the life-time cost associated with traditional western housing systems. In effect an "ikea" house that can be transported by a Toyota LandCruiser and assembled, maintained and repaired by the local community.

Although modular transportable housing has been tried in remote Aboriginal communities before, it has typically resulted in poor outcomes.  Analysis of these failures has clearly identified inadequate consultation with key stakeholders as a primary cause and, critically, the urgent need for better participative design processes that bring all stakeholders together collaboratively in a meaningful dialogue with remote Aboriginal communities. That is:

  1. The architects and building companies (who create the housing products)
  2. Federal, State and Local Government actors (e.g. those who control the funding, governance and regulatory frameworks for housing)
  3. Support services providers ( e.g. Vocational Education providers who provide training or transport operators who deliver products)

If sustainable modular housing could be successfully designed and developed collaboratively, it could significantly reduce the cost of providing environmentally sustainable housing to remote Aboriginal communities and provide significant local employment and enterprise opportunities.

Our goal with this project is to use a well-established participative design process to ensure the socio-technical and financial viability of sustainable modular housing technologies.  We propose to engage key stakeholder groups in a participative design process (using focus groups and a Future Inquiry Workshop) to develop successful modular housing for remote Aboriginal communities.

The key research questions are to identify, describe and document:

  1. The key technical principles necessary to ensure that this form of housing is suitable for a range of remote communities,
  2. The key socio-cultural factors necessary to ensure that the designs are acceptable to the communities and are likely to be supported,
  3. Identify and describe the key training requirements that will ensure the designs can be constructed and maintained by locally trained people living in remote communities,
  4. The economic and financial structures that will ensure that this housing technology will be financially viable, provide local employment and promote an enterprise culture

The key outputs for this project will be:

  1. Documentation of key technical and socio-cultural design principles underpinning the development of sustainable modular housing in remote Aboriginal communities,
  2. Submission of an ARC-Linkage application to create and evaluate virtual and physical models that realise the outcome of the participative design process, and develop the models into working prototypes to be trialed and evaluated in remote communities.

This project is funded by QCSSI (Queensland Centre for Social Science Innovation).