After the catastrophic 2009 bushfires in the state of Victoria, Australia, the State Government provided information and
advice, short-term and temporary accommodation as well as financial assistance to bushfire-affected communities. A
tension developed between quickly rebuilding housing and re-establishing known social and economic networks versus
a slower and more deliberative process that focuses on long-term community outcomes. Whilst there was a widespread
assumption that quick rebuilding would be beneficial, resulting in immediate pressure to do so, it became evident
that many people were not prepared to, or even did not want to rebuild. Thus it became important to provide time
and support for people to consider their options away from the immediate pressures to rebuild that are often inherent
in post-disaster recovery processes. This became known as “holding the space” and included the introduction of interim
supports such as building temporary villages and other supports which enable people to achieve appropriate interim
accommodation without having to rebuild immediately. However, even two years after the bushfires a significant proportion
of people remained undecided whether they wanted to rebuild or not. The post-bushfire experience pointed to
a number of lessons including the importance of appropriate timing of post-disaster activities, careful targeting of financial
assistance, need for developing better and lower cost interim housing options and pre-impact planning. Given the
complex nature of rebuilding following a disaster, design professionals should focus not just on the final house, but also
look at housing options that blur the distinction between temporary and permanent. Their designs should be quick to
build, offer a good quality of life, be affordable for most and be flexible in design for future use.
Keywords: Bushfire, Rebuilding, Temporary Villages, Victoria.
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