Maningrida Housing Engagement

Case Study



What was the issue?

Overcrowding is a significant problem in Maningrida and is being addressed by the NT Government through the Room-to-Breathe and Homebuild programs.  

The community has made it clear that they wanted to see greater integration of their needs and desires in design of community housing. The success of both government programs lies in the implementation of community-led decision making.  

As a part of the Homebuild program, over 50 new houses are scheduled for construction over the next 5 years. The opportunity here was to listen to the community and address their concerns and cultural obligations through the housing design process.  

“I have to wait for my mother-in-law to finish in the kitchen before I can leave my bedroom. We can’t cross paths in the house.” – Tenant in Maningrida reflecting on how cultural obligations in their community impact the way the housing functions.

Tenant A
This tenant shared with us how she currently occupies her house with her family and seasonal visitors. This process helped us understand some of the current limitations that exist with the housing and potential opportunities.

What did we do?

We facilitated participatory workshops. The local Housing Reference Group invited us to meet with them and facilitate a workshop on community housing. It was critical that workshop was delivered in such a way that the community was able to share the stories and experiences.

Rather than asking direct questions, we allowed the conversation to flow on the reference group’s terms. This process allowed us to gather deeper information and helped develop trust.

 “Many people in Maningrida are very ill. We need to get them easily in and out of houses safely” – Reference Group feedback  

We developed a series of abstracted spatial cards that enabled housing constraints to be demonstrated. We learnt about cultural practice, visitor patterns, climate, safety issues and occupation levels. The spatial cards helped us with our design thinking and enabled us to better understand individual pressures.

“When we have visitors coming, most of the time they are only girls visiting my daughters, so they have everything around there that they need. The house has two doors, I have one door on this side so I can come out there, sit out there, and have my own time and space” – Tenant in Maningrida reflecting on how the division in his house works well for his family particularly when there are visitors.

What was our impact?

We developed the Maningrida Community Housing Principles  

This hands-on, community-led process enabled a series of design principles that are culturally, climatically and community oriented. Their focus is the specific cultural context and needs of the Maningrida community. 

The process enhanced community housing literacy 

Working with the Housing Reference Group, we helped to improve housing literacy and empowered community members to be more proactively involved in the design of housing for their community.  

As we often repeat, you cannot have community-led decision making without informed community decision makers.