Kimberley Vernacular

Our Innovation through Demonstration approach to development is being shared in the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook. 

This guide brings together the experience and practice of Kimberley residents, builders and architects in a collection of innovative design recommendations to guide developments in the Kimberley so they can achieve design excellence in environmentally and socially sustainable projects

The Vision

Working in consultation with local residents, builders and architects, we are assisting growth and development in the Kimberley through the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook.

An example of our leading by doing approach to regional development, the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook is guiding built form in the region to develop homes that promote a more innovative and sustainable lifestyle.

In keeping with our commitment to open-source learning, we have made the handbook available to interested parties to show the benefits of sustainable design and to encourage the adoption of this design in Kimberley developments.

The handbook addresses the region’s opportunities and challenges, as well as exploring strategies for specified major towns in the Kimberley. While an informal vernacular has successfully begun to emerge in places including Broome and Kununurra, its focus has been around climatic challenges.

With industrial and population growth historically driving building development in the region, it is necessary to rethink design and built form in terms of the long-term requirements that are needed to create sustainable and connected communities.

We need to be innovative in our response to local issues and it is imperative we rethink the guidelines to design and built-form in the Kimberley. We need to foster efficient and sustainable urban form that captures the local character and functional design features needed for this vast and challenging region.

The Kimberley Vernacular Handbook is not intended to impose any statutory requirements. It aims to provide a collection of local considerations and strategies that strive to improve design responses and achieve sustainable outcomes.


The Kimberley Vernacular Handbook incoporates five core values

  1. Responding to climate
  2. Incorporating the natural landscape
  3. Building on character and identity
  4. Enhancing liveability
  5. Mobilising for change

Benefits from applying the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook’s guidelines in your next build:

  • Decreased energy costs
  • Decreased water usage
  • A home suited to the surrounding environment

The handbook’s design strategies are a plan of action around each value which, when implemented, will change the urban future for the Kimberley and its public realm and housing infrastructure.

The vast bulk of built form required in the Kimberley will be single and group housing, with opportunities for infill developments. Shared living and multiple housing, although not a predominant housing type in the Kimberley, sometimes require specific strategies to ensure a locally considered outcome.

The strategies are not prescriptive, providing a guide for improving planning and future urban design and built form. The strategies work alongside the Building Codes of Australia but do not override them. Residential Design Code (R-Code) variations may be required for climate responsive strategies. The new R-Codes for housing above the 26th parallel will be a welcome companion for this handbook.

Regional benefits in developing and implementing the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook

  • Ensure high quality buildings and public realm, and enhance the interface between the two.
  • Contribute to the development of climate-responsive designed built form by providing contemporary design responses to the Kimberley context, including logistics and economic considerations.
  • Evoke a sense of place that develops local character, reflecting the local landscape, environment, climate and culture.
  • Support the region’s development by providing guidelines for sustainable options to improve future built form and public spaces.
  • Support the implementation of more efficient built form with lower running costs.
  • Support people working within the Kimberley’s land and property development industry with options relevant to their immediate vicinity.
  • Assist with the implementation of the Government strategy for the region.

We are committed to implementing the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook in stages. Part one of the handbook relates to general information that can be applied to the whole of the Kimberley. Part two is specific to conditions in Broome.

Detailed information relating to major Kimberley towns will added to the handbook as it becomes available.

Who should use the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook?

The Kimberley Vernacular Handbook is a great resource for anyone contributing to decision making which affects the urban realm, housing and built form in the Kimberley.  

Interested parties can benefit from understanding the intent of the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook and using its values, principles and strategies as a point of reference for future work.


How To Use This Handbook

Part One of the Kimberley Vernacular Handbook relates to general information that can be applied to the whole of the Kimberley.

Part Two of the handbook is specific to Broome conditions.

Aboriginal settlements (small towns with populations less than 600 people) have also been identified and discussed in the handbook. One settlement, Bidyadanga, with the largest population of these small towns, has been chosen as a case study to understand the amenity and infrastructure of small remote settlements.

Part Three onwards will contain detailed information examining the main Kimberley towns of Kununurra, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Wyndham and Halls Creek and will be available in the near future.

Contact Details
P: 1300 730 ...


Kimberley Vernacular


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