Upcoming Projects

Upcoming Bower Projects 2022

  • 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 and C,D, E accredited) to be run in semester 1 2022,


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


    Applications for Bower 22 @ Cummeragunja APBL90356 Bower Studio are now open and due by 4pm Friday 25 February. 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 (250 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 Sunday 27 February.

    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 9:00am to 12pm Monday and Thursday, MSD Building, Parkville campus.

    There are four intensive site work components proposed (dates tbc):

    Site survey
    Sunday 13 - Monday 14 March

    Build #1 & Design Consultation
    Sunday 20 - Tuesday 22 March

    Build #2 & Design Consultation
    Thursday 7 - Thursday 14 April

    Build #3 & Design Consultation (tbc)
    Monday 8 - Thursday 12 May

    Further information

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


    David O’Brien, George Stavrias, Zoe Diacolabrianos, James Neil, Damien Cresp.

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

    Latest Progress


  • Gurindji Community
    • Gurindji Community, Kalkaringi, Northern Territory
    • Design/Build
    • 12.5 point mid-year elective
    • Open to MSD students (limited places available)
    • Applications are closed due to COVID but we have been asked to partner with the community again to make further improvements to the Karungkarni Arts Centre. We hope we can move forward when COVID restrictions are lifted in late 2022 or 2023.

    Further information

    Contact Dr David O’Brien