2017 Wadeye, NT
2016 Sipaia, PNG
2016 Wave Hill, NT
2015 Areyonga, NT
2015 Amoonguna, NT
2014 Suanum, PNG
2014 Titjikala, NT
2013 Belyuen, NT
2012 Sipaia, PNG
2012 Bellary Springs, WA
2011 Wakathuni, WA
2010 Gudorrka, NT
2010 Knuckeys Lagoon, NT
2010 Morobe Province, PNG
2009 Gudorrka, NT
2008 Gudorrka, NT
2008 Nong Tong Lim, Thailand
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this website may contain images of people who have died.
Bower Studios are a sequence of Master of Architecture build/consult/design projects at The University of Melbourne’s School of Design. They involve students working alongside indigenous groups in remote locations in Australia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea to improve their built environments.
Bower’s leadership team demonstrates diverse and complementary skill sets. Most are ex-Bower graduates who excel at building community relationships and mentoring new student groups.
The Bower Studio thanks its sponsors past and present
2017 – Wadeye, NT
- ABC Radio Darwin 5 June 2017
- NT News 8 June 2017: New home to help save artefacts
- ABC Radio Darwin 19 June 2017
- Architecture AU 19 June 2017: Winners Revealed – 2017 NT Architecture Awards [Read it on ArchitectureAU] – Wave Hill NT
- Architecture & Design 19 June 2017: 2017 NT Territory Architecture Awards winners announced [Read it on Architecture & Design]
2016 – Sipaia (PNG) & Wave Hill, Kalkarindji, NT
- ABC Radio Melbourne Breakfast 11 August 2016
- Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association Radio 11 August 2016
- Radio Larrakia 12 August 2016
- ABC Radio Darwin 20 August 2016
- Pursuit 22 August 2016: Indigenous Memory-making meets architecture [Read it on Pursuit]
- EMTV 14 December 2016: Custom-built toilets for Climate Change Adaptation at Morobeen Village [Read it on EMTV]
- National Newspaper Papua New Guinea 15 December 2015: Two new toilets in Sipaia to improve sanitation
2015 – Areyonga & Amoonguna Communities, NT
- ABC Radio Sydney 21 April 2015
- National Indigenous Radio Service 23 April 2015
- ABC Radio Adelaide 23 April 2015
- ABC Radio Northern Territory 27 April 2015 [ Download MP3 (12.4MB) ]
- Koori Radio Sydney 20 April 2015
- SYN FM Melbourne 21 April 2015
- SBS Radio 23 April 2015
- Centralian Advocate 24 April 2015 [ Download as PDF ]
- MUSSE 15 April 2015: Students build shelter with remote Indigenous communities [ Read it on MUSSE | Download as PDF ]
- The Age 8 May 2015: Architecture students create vital infrastructure in remote communities [ Read it on The Age | Download as PDF ]
2014 – Titjikala (NT)
- World Architects eMagazine Top 10 worldwide design/build programs that are making a difference.
- Pursuit Magazine, Times Higher Education Supplement March 2014 Indigenous Housing by Design
- Architecture and Design 12 May 2014 Indigenous Outdoor Housing Designed by Architecture Students
- ABC Darwin 6 May 2014
- ABC Alice Springs 6 May 2014
- Darwin Sunday Territorian 18 May 2014
- Koori Mail 21 May 2014
- Centralian Advocate 9 May 2014
- MUSSE May 12, 2014 Designing and building living spaces for remote communities | MUSSE
- Sanctuary Magazine Issue 26 Autumn 2014 Humanitarian Architecture
2013 – Belyuen (NT)
- ABC Darwin 18 September 2013
- Koori Mail
- Wagaitear Vol 12. No 10. October 2013
- Melbourne University Magazine August 2013 Building for Indigenous Communities
- CSHE 2013 Using ‘real world’ experiences for student learning http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/resources_teach/video_vig/
2012 – Bellary Springs (WA) and Sipaia (PNG)
- Victorian Architect Winter 2012
- Gumala Radio 29 June 2012
- Architecture and Design’ 16 July 2012 Architecture students collaborate with Pilbara's Indigenous community on new hall
- Container Architecture ‘ArchiTel TV’ http://architel.tv/episode-8-container-architecture-pilbara/
- Koori Mail July 11 2012
- Post-Courier 22 November 2012
- MUSSE Jul 24, 2012 Guest Column with Dr David O'Brien | MUSSE
- MUSSE Aug 8, 2012 Architecture, Building and Planning academic honoured by Rio...
- MUSSE Nov 12, 2012 Recognising excellence in teaching | MUSSE
2011 – Wakathuni (WA)
- The Age Newspaper 18 July 2011 Students help build better future for isolated children
- ABC Radio National ‘Bush Telegraph’ 8 July 2011
- ABC Radio North West 27 June 2011
- SBS Radio ‘Living Black’ 22 June 2011
- The Age Newspaper 21 June 2011
- Visions July 15 2011 Construction for Community Podcast
- Pilbara Echo 16 July 2011 Official Opening of the Gumala 0-5 Studio
- ArchDaily 18 July 2011 Early Childhood Learning Centre
2010 – Gudorrka and Knuckeys Lagoon (NT)
- Koori Mail 30 June 2010
- SBS ‘Living Black’ 22 August 2010
- SBS ‘News’ 22 August 2010
- ABC Darwin 18 May 2010 Shipping Containers Help Local Community.
- The Age 6 July 2010
- The Age Voice Vol 6. No 8. September 12 2010 Shelter, Space and a Community Place
- Visions Episode 85. September 17 2010 Making of a Media Box
- Open Architecture Network 2010 Gudorrka and Knuckeys Lagoon Media Boxes.
2009 – Gudorrka (NT)
- ABC Triple J ‘Hack’ 24 August 2009.
- ABC Darwin ‘Morning Show’ 16 June 2009
- ABC1 ‘Stateline’ 3 July 2009
- ABC Radio ‘Connect Asia’ 19 October 2009
2016. Yali-McNamara Award for Small Project Architecture
Australian Institute of Architects
2015. Innovation Award - Planning and Building
Australian Regional Development (ARDC)
Bower Studio HomesPLUS
2014. Vice-Chancellor’s Engagement Award
This award recognized the Bower Studio’s innovative HomesPLUS projects at the Beyuen and Titjikala (NT) communities. It noted the team’s capacity to positively engage with community groups and industry partners.
Matt Breen, Ilari Lehtonen & Trevor Galgal
2013. Dreamlarge Student Engagement Award
This award enabled students Matthew Breen, llari Lehtonen and Trevor Galgal to return to Papua New Guinea to research and refine the prototype composting toilet design built by the Bower Studio at the Sipaia Community in 2012.
2012. Rio Tinto Excellence and Innovation in Indigenous Higher Education
"David O'Brien is to be congratulated for developing and delivering such a program over many years, and for involving a wide range of community and corporate partners in order to help support it. The Rio Award is a well-deserved accolade for this excellent program."
2012. Australian Government Office for Learning & Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
For innovative and collaborative approaches to engaging architecture students with Indigenous communities to realise development projects alongside local partners.
2012. Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize - Commendation
Jury Chair Brian Zulaikha noted in the commendation citation "The Jury acknowledged Dr O’Brien’s dedication to research and his integration of this into the Bower Studios program. The studios produce a student culture which is deeply interested in the indigenous architecture of many communities. Students have the unique experience of engaging with the community to deliver meaningful outcomes as well as the practical application of going on-site to construct the designs."
2011. Royal Institute of British Architects Dissertation Medal
Hannah Robertson received the prestigious Dissertation Medal for her work Bush Owner Builder, which developed culturally sensitive and appropriate housing for a remote Aboriginal community in Australia. "This thoughtful and thorough piece of work shows how architecture students are providing clever and sensitive solutions that aspire to vastly improve people's quality of life," Institute president Angela Brady said.
2010. BlueScope Steel Glenn Murcutt Student Prize
Fiona was awarded the prize for her work Single Men’s Community at Palmerston Indigenous Village - an examination of suitable self-help housing for itinerant men near Darwin. The awards jury said they “appreciated Fiona’s resolution of simple shelter housing that is sufficiently flexible to accommodate indigenous patterns of living with elements that can be added or subtracted”.
Allison Stout, Charlotte Fliegner & Karina Piper
2008. University of Melbourne Knowledge Transfer Award
After participating in the 2008 Bower Studio, students Allison Stout, Charlotte Fliegner and Karina Piper received funding to continue the project into 2009 and liaise with the Gudorrka community. Their consultation and designs informed the 2009 Bower Studio engagement and led to the renovation of House 8 at Gudorrka.
Day 9 was an exciting day on site at the Wadeye Media pavilion. It was a Tuesday, the day after the Queen’s Birthday. Whilst being irrelevant for nearly everybody everywhere (well, the footy was a thrilling see-sawing affair with quite a few magpie totems in the crowd), the Bower team celebrated, as it meant we could finally get our hands on some smooth concrete mixed in the barrel of a truck, rather than a gritty brew inside a rusty old wheelbarrow.2017 Wadeye, NT
Nearing the end of the Bower 17 build phase, the Pavilion was taking shape and almost at a point of completion. The last of the formwork was assembled and positioned ready for the following day’s pour. The A/V equipment was also securely mounted within the Media Box and all cabling was organized to provide a clear area for internal storage.2017 Wadeye, NT
After a night camping among the sand dunes at Wadeye Beach, the moon hung low on the horizon as we drove in to town for another days work. It was straight back into the finalizing of various tasks from the previous afternoon - completing the formwork for more bench seats around the screen, while work continued on the fixing and replacing of the roof purlins in the old pavilion roof structure.2017 Wadeye, NT
The day begun in a flurry of dust and sweat. An early start saw the weary eyed travellers on site at 7:30am but ready to battle.2017 Wadeye, NT
It was a busy day on site; two concrete pours, and the arrival of Stewart and Astrid from ARUP, and Lyndon Ormond-Parker. The pavilion is starting to take shape into the media cultural hub of Wadeye and there is lots of keen community interest.2017 Wadeye, NT
Concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete…. the concrete arrived! Yay!2017 Wadeye, NT
The Wadeye Media Box really started to take shape today with the installation of the frame for the screen, an electricity pole to connect the Box to the streets power line, and the formwork being set out for the seating around the screen. Also the pavilion was neatened up by removing some old insulation that was decaying and hanging down (see picture).2017 Wadeye, NT
The first day began meeting Mark Crocombe at the Kanamkek-Yile Ngala Museum, a history centre containing Wadeye’s story of a shared cultural ethos between Rainbow, a culturally significant figure within the Thamarrurr region, and Father Docherty, a prominent catholic missionary.2017 Wadeye, NT