Upcoming Projects

Upcoming Bower Projects 2021

  • Cummeragunja On-Country Learning Pavilion

    The Cummeragunja community lives on the banks of the Murray River in New South Wales close to Barmah township. Formerly known as the Cummeragunja Mission the land is now owned by the Yorta Yorta Land Council. Elders from the Yorta Yorta community have approached Bower Studio to support the development of an on-country learning pavilion to become a focal point for a range of cultural activities. Community members have identified on-country learning as an important way to celebrate their cultural heritage and foster their future identity.

    A stockpile of ‘thinnings’ from the local red river gum forests provides timber for posts and beams. At the community’s suggestion a number of poles of appropriate length and diameter have been selected from the main stockpile. A number of consultation meetings, sketch models and drawings, have led the Bower team towards the current design – a forest of nine timber columns supporting a perforated steel roof filtering dappled light. The columns and beams are connected by custom steel brackets and supported on textured concrete footings and seating inside the pavilion.

    Later in the project we will install additional screens to help storytelling.

    During one of the consultation visits three timber poles were installed as part of an impromptu landscaping exercise outside the local health clinic. Using local timber, the Bower team tested a series of connection details at 1:1 scale to help facilitate community discussions. These prototypes have since been modified with the support of Arup engineers.


    This program begins at the Parkville campus before relocating to the Cummeragunja community with an intensive phase from between four to fourteen days. Students will be instructed to use power tools to contribute to the building process. Student assessment will include drawings, booklets and multi-media presentations.


    Masters level students at the Melbourne School of Design are eligible to join the program via two subjects;

    • APBL90356 Bower Studio (25 credit points) to be run in semester 2 2021,


    • ABPL90286 Construction Methods A (12.5 credit points) for students in the 300 point architecture program.


    Applications for Bower 21 @ Cummeragunja are now open and due by 5pm Saturday 24 July. No late submissions can be considered.

    Submission Process

    Applications for Bower Studio must be submitted directly – it is NOT on the CDE ballot.

    Please email your application to the selection committee and tell us why you are excited about the project at Cummeragunja (300 words). Please tell us if you are applying to have this processed as a Design C, D, or E subject or if you would like to do the project as Design Thesis. Add your telephone number in case we have any questions.

    Successful applicants will be notified by email by Monday 26 July.

    Please be aware that this project includes extended time ‘on-country’, travel, hard work and some very basic accommodation and food. Check the student blog on the Bower Studio website to get some idea of the students’ experience.

    Proposed Schedule

    This subject is scheduled 9:30am to 12pm Monday and Thursday (weeks 2, 7, 10, 11, 12) Parkville Campus, MSD room 137

    Room 224 MSD Building

    There are three intensive site work components proposed (tbc):

    Site survey
    Sun/Mon (week 3)

    Build #1 & Next Stages Design Consultation
    Sun/Mon/Tues (week 5)

    Build #2 & Next Stages Design Consultation
    Mon – Fri (week 9)

    Allow approximately for accommodation $300

    Further information

    Contact Dr David O’Brien or George Stavrias gst@unimelb.edu.au


    David O’Brien, George Stavrias, Zoe Diacolabrianos, James Neil, Nicky Henderson.

    Email David O’Brien at djobrien@unimelb.edu.au for further information.

    Student mentor 2020/21

    Damien Cresp.

    Latest Progress


  • Gurindji Community Hub
    • Gurindji Community Hub, Kalkaringi, Northern Territory
    • Design/Build
    • 12.5 point mid-year elective
    • Open to MSD students (limited places available)
    • Predeparture classes will begin in May with a two-week site visit to Kalkaringi in June/July
    • Applications are now open

    Bower Studio has a long-established relationship with the Gurindji people on their homelands in remote Northern Territory. Previous Bower projects with the Gurindji include the award winning ‘Wave Hill Walk-Off Pavilions’, in 2016 and the ‘Karungkarni Arts Centre Extensions’ in 2018. Additional projects completed by Bower at Kalkaringi include leisure and sports facilities. See, www.bowerstudio.com.au.

    All projects are completed after extensive consultations with the community and include local labour and support.

    This time we will be focused on the exterior space around the community hub designing and installing gathering spaces, shade structures, landscaping and general placemaking. This will first involve prefabrication of steel components in Melbourne and assembling a ‘kit of parts’ that will be sent to Kalkaringi before our twelve days work within the community.

    Conversations with the community during the build phase will inform your final project which can include design and video submissions.

    Pre-departure classes will run in May with cultural competency training and research seminars before working at Kalkaringi. A pre-departure building exercise is held to help you familiarise yourselves with the building processes and tools. The studio is intellectually and physically demanding – please review the website carefully! Allow approximately $1,800 for airfares, 4WD hire etc.


    Applications for Bower 20 are now open and due by 2pm Friday 2 April. You should first attend an information session to understand the scope of the project. Register your interest with Dr David O’Brien to receive an invitation to attend one of our information sessions in March.

    Submission Process

    Please email your application to the selection committee and tell us why you are excited about the Bower 21 project at Kalkaringi (300 words or less). Please add your telephone number in case we have any questions.

    Successful applicants will be notified by email in mid-April 2021.

    Please be aware that this project involves some long-distance travelling, hard work and some very basic accommodation and food. Check the student blog on the Bower Studio website to get some idea of the students’ experiences.

    Further information

    Contact Dr David O’Brien