Madigan at Baynton West


In 2012, DevelopmentWA created the Pilbara Vernacular Handbook to better inform future Pilbara projects and guide development in the region. The Handbook has been designed to support people working within the Pilbara’s land and property development industry, including urban designers, architects, builders, engineers and to support local government officers.

It brings together a collection of considerations and suggested strategies to help improve built form design outcomes in the region by:

  • Responding to climate
  • Incorporating the natural landscape
  • Building on the Pilbara character and identity
  • Encouraging change and innovation

To that end we organised a Demonstration Home Design Competition to display the theory behind of the Pilbara Vernacular. The Design Competition provided an opportunity for the three invited architects and nominated builders to explore and showcase Pilbara Vernacular principles in a demonstration home. The primary objective of the exercise was to develop a concept design for a home, which contributes to the character and sense of place of Karratha while providing functional efficiency and comfort at a reasonable market price.

The Pilbara Demonstration Home recently featured on Josh Byrne's "Josh's House - Star Performers" television program. View the episode here. The show explores high performance and affordable homes for the mainstream public. One of five leading homes in the series, the Pilbara Display Home is designed specifically for the Pilbara's unique climate and conditions.

Further videos on the home and the display village can be viewed below.

Madigan at Baynton West

A panel of independent professionals, including members of DevelopmentWA, the Office of the Government Architect and the Australian Institute of Architects awarded first place to Gresley Abas for its holistic approach in responding to the competition brief.The Gresley Abas Pilbara Vernacular Demonstration House was designed for the people of Karratha and the local conditions. By applying and interpreting the principles of the Pilbara Vernacular Handbook, the design seeks to strike a careful balance by responding to Karratha’s climate, people, character, culture and future. Gresley Abas teamed up with local builder Eaton Building to deliver this demonstration home and provide a glimpse into the future of residential design in the Pilbara.

To view the guide for the Pilbara Vernacular home download here.

The Pilbara Vernacular Handbook

Take a look around the growing towns in the Pilbara region and you’ll notice the majority of the buildings haven’t been here for long. Most were developed in the 1960s to support the rise in mining activity and an increased demand for housing.

Minimal planning was given and more than fifty years later, the need for a smarter building approach has become obvious. To address this, we have developed the Pilbara
Vernacular Handbook to help you build your home in a style more suited to the region.

The Handbook provides an overarching set of design values and strategies for building in the Pilbara as a whole, and specific guidelines for Hedland, Newman, Onslow and Dampier.

To download a copy of the handbook and to see what is possible to build in the Pilbara click here.