Rangers Accommodation

Fish River Rangers Accommodation

Fish River Station, Northern Territory (Australia) 2018

University of South Australia (Australia)

The Fish River Aboriginal ranger accommodation upgrade on the remote Fish River Station, Northern Territory, is a design and construction project undertaken by staff and students from the Design Construct programme at the University of South Australia aimed at improving climatic performance and responding to cultural needs which the former accommodation did not provide.

Prior to the upgrading, rangers were accommodated in fabric roof tent structures which did not protect against intense sun, tropical downpours and insects, nor did they afford visual privacy between occupants, particularly gender groups. By providing large insulated and reflective steel roofing, robust floor to ceiling stainless steel insect screening, and individual private raised bed spaces with personal storage and ceiling fans, the improved levels of thermal insulation, ventilation, and insect protection significantly enhanced the personal comfort, amenity and privacy of the rangers. The project exemplifies a viable cost-effective alternative for remote tropical accommodation compared to air conditioned “transportables” which are dependent on costly stand-alone power systems and on-going maintenance.


The Fish River project on the remote Fish River Station, Northern Territory, is a project undertaken for Aboriginal rangers employed on traditional land as part of the Australian Government’s Working on Country program. Fish River is a culturally significant landscape for the Ngan’giwumirri (Labarganyin), Wagiman, Malak Malak and Kamu people, who are the Indigenous landowners for the property.

The Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) purchased the land on behalf of Aboriginal rangers employed on the Fish River Station. The ILSC is an Australian Commonwealth statutory authority with national responsibilities to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to acquire land and to manage assets to achieve cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits for Indigenous peoples and future generations.

Tutors (Project coordinators)
Joti Weijers-Coghlan; David Morris

Students (coursework participation)
Master of Design (Design Construct) – Masters Project 2
client consultation and site survey (5 students)

Master of Architecture – Advanced Architectural Design Studio (Construction)
design development (5 students)

Master of Design (Design Construct) – Masters Project 2
documentation and cost estimation (5 students)

Master of Architecture – Construction in the Workshop
prefabrication (20 students)

Master of Architecture – Construction in the Workshop: Advanced
prefabrication and transportation (20 students)

Master of Architecture – Construction on Site
on site set out and assembly (25 students)

Research question

Professional architectural practice typically terminates with a completed building and does not involve post-occupancy evaluation beyond the liability period largely because there is no commercial incentive. Architectural education at university typically mirrors this limitation by confining the focus to the early conceptual stages of a design project.
The Design Construct program aims to address these limitations by extending the student experience beyond the concept stage through to a finished building. This opens the opportunity to evaluate a building’s physical, social and functional performance post occupation in order to inform future projects.
Our initial research question is concerned with an environmentally appropriate building solution(s) for rangers using the accommodation to evaluate whether they were provided an acceptable level of climatic comfort. These questions also have wider implications for Aboriginal housing design and remote, low-energy building in general.
The second research question is concerned with understanding the occupant response to the new accommodation particularly how successfully the project had responded to cultural issues such as privacy and gender separation. Again, the results of this survey could inform policy on Aboriginal and remote accommodation in general.

11-50, Architecture, Australia, Client-funded, Commissioned, Construction Management, Curricular, Engineering, Interior Architecture, Permanent, Postgraduate, Product Design, South Australia Univ., Students with tutor, Years