Pilbara Vernacular Handbook

Case Study


Various language groups and Nations that make up the Pilbara

What was the problem?

The Pilbara Vernacular Handbook (PVH) is a 400-page volume that re-imagines the future of urban and suburban development across the Pilbara. Prior to its launch in 2012, the region was poorly served by a mix of local and national policies, ill-suited to the climatic and cultural extremes of the Pilbara. The Handbook’s unique approach has positively influenced the design of housing, public buildings and the urban realm across the region.

What did we do?

TF.A led the production of the Handbook, overseeing a team of engineers, planning consultants, economic consultants, planning and land agencies to ensure that the work met the strategic goals of government alongside improved design outcomes. We engaged with local builders and developers to ensure the validity of our strategies and to test the effectiveness of our communication.

Five core values were identified as essential design considerations:

  • Responding to climate
  • Incorporating the natural landscape
  • Building on the Pilbara character and identity
  • Enhancing livability
  • Mobilising for change

The Handbook consists of an overarching analysis of the region as well as broad strategies for the urban realm, housing and built form. This process is then applied to four key towns, unearthing the particularities of place and providing strategies to specific conditions.

"The Pilbara is not Perth. It is critical that documents of this nature are brought into being to assist designers and planners to understand the importance of place, culture and context - and how to design for exactly that." Philip Gresley RAIA Gresley Abas Architects

What was our impact?

The value of the Handbook is demonstrated not just in its content, but also in the clear, legible way in which it has been structured. Devised so that it can be read as a complete document or in individual parts, the structure of the chapters allows for readers to quickly access the information they require.

Since its launch the PVH has fundamentally influenced the urban realm, being incorporated into everything form single housing design, to public buildings and their briefs, to large scale town planning schemes – all with a focus on ensuring quality outcomes for the Pilbara community.

The impact of PVH can be evidenced by the adoption of its principles by State and Local Government, , NFP’s and allied organisations, developers, builders, architects and the broader community. The Handbook has set a national benchmark for place specific, high quality design outcomes.