The Essence of Shelter

An exhibition and installation exploring the construction of primitive housing
Exhibition dates: Wednesday 11 to Saturday 28 October 2017

The University Gallery (+ Senta Taft Hendry Museum and surrounds)

Callaghan Campus

Your house is your castle, terracotta and corrugated iron keep your living room dry and brick and Gyprock keep out the cold. But what if there were no factories to encase you in luxury? No trucks to haul the bricks? Would you turn to loggers and bullocks to cut and mill timber for a bushman’s slab hut? Would you ask an elder how their people made themselves a home? Or what if you had only a pair of hands and a hatchet?

In most parts of Australia, the landscape generally offers the means for human construction of a basic shelter. The earth and the bush provide a rich palette of materials and plenty of room for innovation. The Hunter Valley offers its own robust typology supported by blackbutt, grass and bark. In this exhibition, five students studying architecture explore techniques for primitive housing construction using materials readily available in the Australian bush.

With the guidance of local researchers, each student was handed a hatchet. After a few days in the Northern Hunter Valley bush, a series of shelter prototypes were built in response to a challenging design brief: construct a shelter that would last a year and support a group of five people living under primitive conditions.

IMAGE: Chief’s Hut, 2017. Photo credit: Mathew Halen