This paper reports on the design requirements for Australian Aboriginal houses. Unfortunately, funding agencies and architects in the Indigenous housing sector consistently continue to provide houses to Indigenous people that are equipped for relatively small nuclear families, which results in a lack of fit between the housing designs and the Aboriginal domiciliary behaviours; yet government agencies are often guilty of imposing the former on the latter. Although this housing sector has frequently involved public servants, builders, engineers and architects since the 1960s, there has been negligible involvement by interior designers. Nevertheless, an understanding of the culturally distinct Aboriginal domiciliary behaviour should inform the process of the interior design of remote-area Aboriginal houses. There is potential for interior designers to expand their professional involvement in Aboriginal housing provision, provided that a sound and sensitive cross-cultural design methodology can be acquired and applied within the context of all-too-often constrained budgets and mainstreaming policies of government, which typically may mitigate against such involvement.
The structure of Aboriginal households is often quite different to Anglo-Australian households, and to design appropriate residential accommodation for Aboriginal people who have traditionally-oriented lifestyles, architects or interior designers must understand the nature of those lifestyles, particularly in the domiciliary context. Knowledge involves understanding those who have undergone cultural changes, including those in rural, urban and metropolitan settings, by helping to identify those aspects of their customary domiciliary behaviour that have been retained. Aboriginal kinship systems are very different to Anglo-Australian ones; they provide patterns of behaviour for many of life’s situations, the patterns being represented or codified by the various types of relationship; these must be addressed through the spatial layout and occupancy.