Gunyah Goondie + Wurley The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia by Paul Memmott
Here is the definitive guide to Australian Indigenous architecture, comprehensively updated to showcase the flourishing Indigenous design practices reshaping Australia's architectural landscape.
The award-winning Gunyah Goondie + Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia is the only continental survey of this country’s First Nations’ innovative architecture. It explores the range and complexity of Indigenous-designed structures and spaces, from minimalist shelters to semi-permanent houses and villages, debunking false perceptions of early Aboriginal constructions and settlements.
Walter Roth: Studies of Aboriginal ethnoarchitectural forms, Queensland, 1897 (via Wikipedia)
Built on decades of research and field work and richly illustrated with rare photographs, Gunyah Goondie + Wurley offers insight into the lifestyles and cultural heritage of Australia's Indigenous peoples, and how they combine to have a dynamic influence on this country.
Ethnoarchitectural forms constructed by the Torres Strait Islanders on the exposed beaches and cays at Mt Ernest Island (Naghi or Nagheer). Lithograph with hand colouring by Melville, c. 1849. Via Wikipedia.
“There was a whole range of different shelters built in different styles depending on climate and social factors,” Associate Professor Memmott, who compiled the book over 35 years, said. “There is clear evidence of complex spatial organisation and design based on social rules and structures. It’s additional evidence that the Aboriginal lifestyles were well-organised, which unfortunately still comes as a surprise to people.
A 19th-century engraving of an indigenous Australian encampment
Aboriginal boys and men in front of a bush shelter, Groote Eylandt, circa 1933
There is clear evidence of complex spatial organisation and design based on social rules and structures. It’s additional evidence that the Aboriginal lifestyles were well-organised, which unfortunately still comes as a surprise to people.
–– Associate Professor Memmott
Among the most striking designs featured in the book are dome houses that existed in the rainforests of tropical Queensland and northern NSW. The houses were interconnected, allowing clans to interact, and were high enough to stand in, so that the inhabitants could spend extended periods indoors during the wet season. “Winter houses” built around Port Jackson and Warringah in Sydney by the Gai-mariagal people were made using hardwood beams, clay, reeds and animal hides.”
Anyone still thinking that terra nullius describes pre-colonial Australia should read this book. There are words and images here that should stop Australians in their tracks. Your country is a rich one, Australia, please learn her story, learn to love her.
–– Bruce Pascoe
An architecture which was invisible to white invaders turns out to be as complex as the religious laws and kinship rules of the society that produced it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
–– Peter Carey
This book should be the prescribed reference work for all involved in town planning, civil construction and especially housing and accommodation involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.
–– Marcia Langton