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On the edge of the desert : design and planning for Roxby Downs

conference contribution
posted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by David Jones
The design and planning of settlements in arid Australia has long been wrought with difficulties because they are positioned in the extremes of environmental and social contexts. Historically many mining-related settlements in Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA), Northern Territory (NT) and Queensland have struggled or failed in realising a quality design and plan, but also to sustain a robust and vibrant community who do not wish to escape to mainstream suburbia or simply operate as a fly-in fly-out employer commuter from this suburbia. Places like Mt Isa, Theodore, Moranbah, Broken Hill, Radium Hill, Leigh Creek, Roxby Downs, Paraburdoo, Shay Gap, Karratha are typical of these circumstances.

This paper reviews the design and planning origins of the villages at Olympic Dam, and critiques the future designs embedded in the Olympic Dam Expansion Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] (2009). These villages consist of Olympic dam village ( a fly-in fly-out dong-go containerised community accommodating some 500 workers) and Roxby Downs (a mixed Adelaide-template suburb with temporary village and caravan park insertions accommodation some 4,500 ‘permanent’ residents and some 200 fly-in fly-out ‘workers’). The scenario presented in the EIS is to demolish the former and establish a new village for some 10,000 workers, and expand Roxby Downs from 4,500 to near 20,000 although whether this later figure will occur is unclear but certainly the infrastructure and facilities have to be increased as well as increasing residential accommodation units).



Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia International Conference : Architecture @ the Edge (2011 : Geelong, Vic.)


94 - 109


Deakin University, School of Architecture & Building


Geelong, Vic.

Place of publication

Geelong, Vic.

Start date


End date







Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.

Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2011, David Jones


H Elkadi, L Xu, J Coulson

Title of proceedings

Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia : Architecture @ the Edge