Madeline Gundry

Environmental, political, and social changes in inland Australia have resulted in a sharp exodus of rural people to regional and urban centres, generating speculation of the future viability of the rural town.(Alston, 2004)

The relationship between these settlements and the Murray River is one of intervention and mismanagement, heightened by the impacts of global climate change.  This existing typology requires intervention or faces a future of imminent collapse.

How do we transform an increasingly redundant frontier typology into a community that is cohesively integrated into the land?

This thesis aims to interrogate and reconceptualise the dying typology of the inland rural town through the case study of the dairy farming community of Gunbower.    A series of interventions will act as a catalyst for reconnecting the community to the environmental and climatic context of the Murray River, and remediating the degenerating civic presence in the town.

The residential proposal includes two typologies, a creek-face development and a unit-development located within the main civic node of the town.

The civic topology recognises the opportunity for remote work to catalyse a sense of civicness, through the inclusion of an implied “shopfront” that aims to inject working residents into the public domain, creating moments of interaction as people move through the site on the public path.   These complexes aim to maintain a sense of ruralness through the inclusion of spaces typical of country housing, whilst subsequently densifying the town centre.

The changing levels of the creek are an important part of understanding our relationship and impact on the river system, from low levels due to overextraction and drought, to flooding as a result of climate change.   By positioning and cantilevering the creek houses over the flood plain, it creates a physical relationship between the interior spaces and the creek landscape, allowing the changing nature of the waterways to become a crucial design element, providing an attractive accommodation option for tourism or larger family homes.

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