Journal article

Alistair Knox (1912–1986) and the birth of environmental building in Australia

Buildings Design Architecture Eltham

Environmental building is a term used to describe the building of structures using local materials and with an eye towards integrating natural systems, landscapes, weather patterns, and color tones. A popular construction material in such projects is mud, which has been used in a variety of building techniques, such as cob, pisé de terre, and adobe, since humans first began creating shelters 10,000 years ago. The most well-known return to this material, the “mud-brick revival,” emerged in the mid-twentieth century alongside postmodernist ideas that aimed to interweave traditional building philosophies with modern styles and environmental concerns. Alistair Knox was at the forefront of this revival in Australia, and his ideas starkly contrasted with prevailing inner-urban ideas about lifestyle choices, consumption and attitudes towards nature.

Like many colonial settlements, Victoria, the southernmost state of mainland Australia, has a long history of building cottages, homesteads, schools and workshops using natural materials as the most efficient way of creating settlement.

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