Bawoorrooga Self-Build  

There is an urgent need for a model of Indigenous housing that directly engages community, is sustainable, affordable, and easily-replicated.

FISH is working with the remote Aboriginal community of Bawoorrooga in the Kimberley, WA, to create a national prototype for sustainable Indigenous housing, education, training, and enterprise. In 2020, FISH and Bawoorrooga finished constructing the first SuperAdobe (earthbag) home in the Kimberley, with the community members’ involvement from design to completion. The program incorporates a newly-planted food forest orchard of 400 plants, of 30 species.

“A national prototype for sustainable Indigenous community ownership, training, employment, housing and enterprise development”

This project demonstrates that a broken community can stand up and build their own future. The community has constructed their home and orchard from the red earth of Gooniyandi homeland. The community members’ hard work – young and old – is a lasting and sustainable example of Aboriginal empowerment.

The catalyst was a devastating 2017 fire which destroyed the home and possessions of Bawoorrooga community leaders, Claude Carter and Andrea Pindan, leaving their entire family residing in a tin shed. Bawoorrooga community members were traumatised, not only from the fire, but from the impact of generational trauma; pervasive throughout Indigenous Australia. FISH staff Kristian Rodd and Jara Romero-Escolar lived full-time at Bawoorrooga to understand the community needs, and to build community trust and engagement. Supported and encouraged by FISH, the community embraced this opportunity to rebuild, despite daunting challenges.

We have seen Bawoorrooga transition from trauma to pride, and from dependence to independence. By enabling the community to plan and take control of the re-build process, they have discovered their capabilities and have realised that they can shape their futures. The project builds a local leadership base which is permanent, Indigenous, and culturally-connected to the land. Bawoorrooga has been restored as a place of cultural leadership – well-known for traditional healing, art, and knowledge of homeland. Every project step is an education and training opportunity. Literacy and numeracy is interwoven with practical and vocational skills. The community leaders have proudly given the following feedback:

“We’d like to thank everyone for helping us heal. All that is behind us now – we’re moving forward. We hope this sort of project can happen in other communities that are battling like us… We’ve always got a big smile now. Before, it was really a downfall. Now, we feel our ‘lien’ (spirit) is going up and up as we build these walls. We feel ‘wideo’ (happy) – like your soul is really strong… It’s really happening now – things are growing.”

Our earth-house embodies ecological sustainability. Its walls, floors and foundations are built from earth and stone – local and non-polluting. The house is thermally-efficient, low-maintenance, comfortable and durable.

The Bawoorrooga project is an inspiring example of what communities an achieve when they take charge of their own futures.

Past Project: Broome Sustainable Home

Sustainable House

FISH, in association with Landcorp and The Summit Homes Group, completed a demonstration home in 2014. The inaugural Sustainable Home was built in Broome.

  • An architecturally designed home built for the unique conditions of Broome.
  • Showcasing sustainable housing including appropriate technologies & systems.
  • Developing socially & environmentally sustainable construction & engagement methods.
  • Contributing toward creating sustainable housing in the north of Western Australia.
  • Working towards reconciliation in the region.

Past Project: Junjuwa Community

FISH was invited by the Junjuwa Community near Fitzroy Crossing to provide input into the design of sustainable housing and healthy living programmes. FISH also developed a draft master plan for their Old Bakery Precinct in consultation with the community.

Junjuwa Concept House
  • Advanced collaborative concept design by FISH and Junjuwa for local sustainable housing.
  • On-site consultation that fully addresses community desires and concerns.
  • Design integrated into landscape, local climate, and outdoors lifestyle .
  • Adaptable design reconfigurable for specific sites and family needs.
  • Approved by Junjuwa community leaders.
Recycling of the Old Bakery
  • Recycling of the derelict bakery building as a community hub.
  • Provision of a women’s centre, art centre, training centre, and information technology facility.
  • Serving also as a tourist cafe, shop, and entertainment facility.
  • Centred as the keystone of a redevelopment precinct involving surrounding land.
  • Enabling future facilities with a considerably sized housing cluster.

Junjuwa House