Renee Miller-Yeaman
Contribution by Renee Miller-Yeaman. PhD candidate, The University of Melbourne.

During the late 1960s the Commonwealth Department of Works in conjunction with Commonwealth Hostels Limited oversaw the design and construction of two migrant hostels, the Endeavour and the Enterprise (Australia. Parliament, Proposed Migrant Hostel at Randwick, Sydney, 1966). Located in a former industrialised area in Sydney’s south-east, The Endeavour opened in 1970 and can be viewed as an experimental site for approaches to on-arrival accommodation historically used for migrants and refugees to Australia as part of assisted passage programs. The design’s temporary, collective living was aligned with dwelling arrangements seen in medium-density apartments rather than the ex-army facilities indicative of earlier migrant hostels and camps. This case study, focusing on the Endeavour, examines trajectories of hostel sites defined by constant experimentation with housing, from provisional practices to testing out new models for collective living. Initial hostel organisation in the aftermath of the Second World War experimented with methods for warehousing large groups of people that provided a crucial workforce for Australia’s developing agriculture industries and factories (Jordens 1994).  However, during the late 1960s and 1970s, the federal government’s objectives regarding migrant and refugee resettlement were shifting, in part due to the economic instability beginning in the early 1970s and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War (Neumann 2015). How the new hostels respond to the broader political tensions of this era in the push for maximum utility in government-sponsored housing, is a driving question for this research. Migrant hostels as sites for design experimentation is explored through both the built facilities as well as the aspirations for the new designs as circulated in Australian Government publications. [Archives: Commonwealth Department of Public Works, Commonwealth Experimental Building Station, Commonwealth Hostels Ltd., NAA: Department of Labour and National Service, Department of Immigration, Department of Labor and Immigration].