THE HousE project

Big West Festival designed and built a prototype of a low-cost demountable house as the central image of the 2015 Festival. A house shell became the Festival theme, hub and the location for over 50 artworks staged by over 200 artists. HOUSE pushed the boundaries between architecture, art and social action, and the role of an arts festival that is solidly grounded in place and the contemporary experience of its residents.

The physical house was built by TAFE apprentices, architecture undergraduates and professional builders, assembled onsite in a car park in Footscray for the Festival, and then relocated to become a home to a mother and her children under the auspices of Women’s Property Initiatives.

The design of the house was informed by the culturally specific housing requirements of women who had experienced homelessness. The same women's stories informed the Festival’s major work, Dwelling, an outdoor theatrical spectacle directed by Jessica Wilson. Some women performed in this work which played to large audiences.

TACTICAL ART PROJECTS ARTIST Marcia Ferguson & Jessica Wilson


  • Social enterprise
  • Community building
  • Issue awareness - housing affordability
  • Empowerment of homeless women


Big West Festival


Over 50 partners were actively engaged in this project. Key partners included:

  • NMBW Architect Studio
  • Women’s Property Initiatives
  • Victoria University Building and Construction
  • MADA Monash Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Women who have experienced homelessness
  • Caroline Chisholm Catholic College Braybrook
  • Village Real Estate
  • Ausbuild


  • Australian Women Donors Network
  • Besen Foundation
  • Henley
  • Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation
  • Marian & E.H. Flack Trust
  • Mercy Foundation