Thesis Studio 04
Designing for Dissonant Heritage

Tatura Music Camp

Studio leaders: Athanasios Tsakonas and Anoma Pieris


During the Second World War, Australia interned over 16,000 nationals from the Axis countries [Germans, Italians and Japanese] concentrating them in military style camps. The largest camp cluster was located near Shepparton in Victoria on the shores of the Waranga Basin.

Within barbed wire enclosures, in austere timber and corrugated-iron barrack facilities, the unfortunate prisoners waited out the war, modifying their bushland settings to simulate the places they had left behind. Among them were many artists, musicians and scholars who used their ingenuity to creatively transform these forbidding material landscapes.

The camps evolved into minor townships including caf├ęs tennis courts, schools, and religious buildings, modified using the structures and materials at hand. Children revelled in their collective companionship unaware of the anxieties of dispossession and exile. Recreational and educational activities relieved generalised boredom and continuing trauma. More particularly musical instruments created by the prisoners enabled them to form several orchestras and a sound shell and dais were purpose-built in Camp 1.

This studio seeks inspiration from the art works, artefacts and survival stories of wartime internees and prisoners of war on display at the Tatura wartime camps museum in designing a music camp and interpretive centre on the Waranga Shore. The aim is to reconcile Australia’s dissonant heritage through a space designed for creative harmony in a practice conceived in the wartime camps.

The first design exercise is a modular interpretive centre for a heritage listed camp site that acts as a parti for testing the material palette to be applied to the music camp. This module becomes the reception centre and entry point into a camp complex, elevated to allow for annual flooding and sensitive to the complex ecology and sensorial effects of the man-made reservoir.

Architecture 2020_winter