LAUREATE COLLECTIVE HOUSING // The Great Wall of Western Australia


LAUREATE COLLECTIVE HOUSING // The Great Wall of Western Australia

The Great Wall of Western Australia

  • Client: Jaxon
  • Architects: Luigi Rosselli
  • Earthen company: Murchison Stabilized Earth Pty Ltd

The Great Wall of WA, also known as The Musterers’ Quarters is located on a remote cattle station in North Western Australia, in a rugged, sunburnt landscape that created an unusual and testing set of design parameters to encapsulate in this unique project to provide accommodation for workers during cattle mustering periods. The client required twelve compact and functional units, maintenance free and energy efficient both when in use and vacant. A sand dune arches around the back of the existing cattle station homestead and the Musterers’ Quarters have been buried beneath it and faced with a continuous rammed earth wall cutting a saw tooth face, they follow the crest of the dune and fan out toward the view of ghost gums scattered on the river banks. The design represents a new approach to the scorched remote North Western Australian architecture, moving away from the sun baked, thin corrugated metal shelters to naturally cooled earth architecture and the aerial view of this landscape and the zigzagging wall is reminiscent of traditional aboriginal paintings. On the highest point a Chapel dominates the Musterers’ quarters; a multipurpose room imbibed of the sacred aura of the place, from the original indigenous carertakers of the site to the headstones marking the graves of the first settlers at the bottom of the hill. The same room is also a meeting point, a meditation place and a contemplative look out. The Chapel is a simple oval rammed earth construction with skewed conical Cor-Ten steel roof that provides protection from the scorching sun. The cone apex, truncated at an oculus, provides a solar meridian on the floor. A gold anodised aluminium ceiling and a sacred verse inscribed on the ring beam of the roof are subtle spiritual components that do not attempt to rival the intrinsic spirituality of the landscape.