The (re)Generation Project

Guest post by Jane Crowley, manager and researcher of The (re)Generation Project, a program run by Macquarie University

I believe that all humans have an innate and instinctive affiliation to other living systems, that being connected to nature is in our biology, it’s just being able to retrieve these in the fast paced urbanised world that we live in, that’s the challenge.


Pictured: Jane Crowley Photo Credit – Josh White

When I think back to some of my favourite childhood memories, they generally involve long days at the beach, roaming the local park for the biggest tree to climb, finding the secret cave in the bush to play in, or following a creek in search for tadpoles.

For me, these early personal connections with the natural world have been powerful and I know they have helped me heal and learn, but also they have helped me form ties with the earth that we depend on.


Photo Credit – Ben Hardy-Clements

But things are changing and most kids don’t have the same exposure to nature that I did…

So, how do we inspire a new generation back to the bush?


Crowley Family Photo

I’m running a project called The (re)Generation Project through Macquarie University that is exploring the power of storytelling from young people to inspire a new generation into nature.


Photo Credit – Josh White

We’re all storytellers, it’s how we communicate with each other, it’s how we educate each other, it’s how entertain each other and it’s often how we can instil moral values in each other. As a storyteller, you are providing the viewer with the material for them to form their own connection rather than telling them what to do.

IMAGE CREDIT Andrew Pavlidis

Photo Credit – Andrew Pavlidis

So for the past five weeks with the support from Digital Storytellers, we’ve been helping about 20 14-27 years olds craft their stories into short films, which we plan on sharing with the world in hope to reignite some of that love for nature that perhaps many have lost.

CREDIT Kurt Davies

Photo Credit – Kurt Davies

We have such an interesting, creative, passionate group of young people involved, with a very diverse range of stories. A shark girl in Bellingen, a young Indigenous man’s story of healing, a fictional piece that personifies nature’s different personalities, and the respite in a roof top garden in Bangladesh, and more… Most who have never made a film in their life, but I’ve learnt along the way that it doesn’t need to be well polished high production to have impact.

As long as the story is honest and real, it has the power to shift perceptions, open minds and maybe even influence behaviour.

It does seem nonsensical that we have lost touch with where our existence stems from, and that looking after the earth like we do for our friends and family, should really be a way of life, rather than boxed into some kind of stereotyped radical. Perhaps stories are a way to break down these stereotypes of looking after the environment, and to just share some of the wonder and magic of our natural world to get people connected again.

CREDIT Sam Brumby

Photo Credit – Sam Brumby

Do you need a bit of nature love? The films will be shared at a free public screening on 30 October. Join us at Riverside Theatres Parramatta. The event is free but seats are limited so book here. Watch the films, hear the stories, meet the filmmakers and learn about what we’re doing to reconnect young people with the natural world.

CREDIT Zara Hawkes

Photo Credit – Zara Hawkes

For more information use the following links:

Website // Facebook // Email:

>> Thank you to Jane Crowley for collaborating with us here at CANstudio. We canNOT wait to watch the films and connect with the great work that you do.

Rauch On


From the first moment I saw this Austrian family home, I fell in love with it.


Completed in 2008, this rammed earth monolith is the product of a collaboration between Martin Rauch and Roger Boltshauser.


Above – note the beautiful consideration of detail: alternating clay bricks between rammed earth layers create gentle horizontal lines.


Textural walls, contrast with crisp, bold lines of the steel stairs.


Clean modern lines balance the warm, textural character of the materiality.





Cut into the earth, windows frame views back to the rock. Square frames highlight rough textures.


This is a fantastic example of natural materials used within a modern aesthetic.

Photo and information credits:

Check out the firms website here:




“Brick Replacement Service” was a delightful hand powered installation built for Dezeen Space in September 2011, for individually building ‘Reseeding Bricks’.


A Reseeding Brick is comprised of a soil and clay mix housing a multitude of seeds.


It was envisaged as a replacement brick that encourages natural plant life and growth within the city.



A beautiful, small intervention that promotes natural growth within the city, while also strengthening the city dweller’s connection between both their natural and urban environment.


Taking ownership of one’s locality promotes community, connection and pride.



Rendered Speechless


There are perhaps a few preconceptions about natural render in architecture and their association with a particular aesthetic: natural renderers go hand-in-hand with curved, organic, rustic, owner-built homes right? Wrong!


I decided to gather a few images of contemporary applications of natural clay and lime renders.



The contrast of a beautiful, earthy natural render finish adds depth and warmth to sleek, contemporary spaces.


I then stumbled across the beautiful project: Tea Mountain cafe, Prague, by A1 Architects, featuring a black straw and clay wall.


The design is reminiscent of Japanese Tea Houses and Wabi Sabi aesthetics – centred around the beauty of imperfection. See their website here.republic  Tea-shop-in-Prague-by-A1-Architects_dezeen_2

Architect Lenka Kremenova spoke to Dezeen commenting that “We always search for a certain kind of quality of materials which could be called ‘touchableness’.”

In contrast. see the following photos where Michaela Scherrer Interior Design use lime render in a bathroom.


Lime renders are naturally antibacterial and allow a wall to ‘breathe’, creating healthier internal environments. ldebq7a32s (1)

You CAN get rendering!Clayworks - Katy plastering 2


Further links and reading:

A1 Architects, Czech Republic

Supacoat natural render suppliers, Australia

Viva Living Homes Strawbale Homes

Sydney Seeing Green

How exciting it is to see all the greenery popping up all over Sydney, as more and more architects and designers incorporate vegetation into their designs.031cheapsyd03



Above: Paddington Reservoir, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects

Decisions in the construction industry have a longstanding impact on the wider street-scape and city, so it important that we direct the built environment towards a sustainably conscious, responsible direction.


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Above: Prince Alfred Pool, Central, Neeson Murcutt Architects

Within the urban environment, the vegetation not only looks beautiful but provides many  benefits including: insulation (soil is a fantastic insulator), offsetting the urban heat island effect (the high thermal mass of the city absorbs heat), reduced rain water run off, increased biodiversity, fresh air!

There are also some great initiatives pushing for city farms which would reduce food mileage and encourage city dwellers outside!


Above: Trio Apartments, Camperdown, in collaboration with French Botanist Patrick Blanc



Above: Central Park by Jean Nouvel in collaboration with French Botanist Patrick Blanc

More links and further reading:

A great article by Broadsheet Sydney on Sydney’s Green Revolution

Sydney 202020 Vision

City of Sydney Green Roofs and Walls in Sydney

City of Sydney City Farm

Sydney City Farm Community

Zig Zag Cabin

Drew Heath Architect, 2003

This wonderful little abode is such an inspiration for high density/compact living. Tighter constraints, be they budget, size, time, can often be exciting, inspirational starting points for design.


Located in Wollombi, 2.5hrs North of Sydney, the Zig Zag Cabin is more akin to an oversized piece of joinery. The house sleeps three people, two at ground level and one at a mezzanine, reached by a ladder.

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Much thought has been given to the windows, which provide framed views of the natural environment surrounds. In such a small project, the detailing of the materials and junctions becomes important, as does the three dimensional use of space.


It is nice to feel enclosed, sheltered, with the opportunity to step outside and engross oneself in the natural elements.


Sometimes I feel that the integrity of a design can dissolve as the floor space or budget of a project grow.  A tightly configured puzzle suddenly gains volume and the project changes character.


The success of this project is the strength of the concept, and the purity with which it has been executed.  Rumour has it that the design was conceived in a sketch on a beer coaster, and aside from being a good story, perhaps it is representative of the direct translation of idea to building.

zig zag cabin 4 tiny house small home

If you’re lucky enough to acquire some bush land, surely the most delightful architectural solution is to step back humbly and thrust you into the wilderness?

Don’t seduce the occupant inside; encourage them to embrace their surrounds.


And I think this project does just that.  Rather than a territorial statement, narcissistically perched at the top of a hill like a discoverer’s flag, it is instead nestled half way down the hill, surrounded by a small timber deck, then natural bush.

A beautiful architecture, one that withstands trends and fashion, has adaptive usability.. Perhaps fundamentally, sustainable construction is one that will remain for a long time, continuing to enchant us?

See Drew Heath’s website:

Information and image source, ‘Zig Zag Cabin’, Architecture Australia by Brett Boardman:

Straw House

Project Straw House by Californian Architects Rael San Fratello 2010

All Images are from their website.


Straw House consists of three glass compartments: sleeping, eating/lounging, bathing.

These compartments are nestled amongst an insulative skin of stacked straw bales.


Amid the volume of straw come small passages between the three compartments.


Like a tactile maze, a contrast between the sleek, coldness of glass and the warm, earthiness of straw.


RSF Architects do some interesting, experimental work. Aiming to constantly redefine themselves, they see building as the privilege to build a full scale study model. – A delightful, thoughtful approach to architecture and construction.


A constant experimentation and exploration. No fear to remain naive, to recognise one’s blindness with a willingness to learn.entrance2broken_bales

Read on for a great extract from their ‘about’ page on their website. I’d love to collaborate with architects of such humble, personable background:

We are a studio that disrupts the conventions of architecture by tackling topics not typically of interest to architects. We start galleries in the middle of nowhere. We talk to homeless people. We stack straw bales. We play in the mud. We start corporations. We imagine a better border. We question green. We love fluorescents and brown. We write. We educate. We learn. We often lose, but it doesn’t stop us from trying. We believe that the turtle wins the race. We believe old things can be new again. We hope that the new things we make will someday be old. Another company’s trash is sometimes our treasure. We believe there is nothing wrong with making money. We do free work (and lots of it). We print buildings. We love dust. We believe that when there is architecture there should also be food. We believe salt has a place in architecture. We are obsessed by materials. We try to proceed and be bold. We think that, when it comes to architecture, there is nothing wrong with lying and accentuating. We love making in California and we love Oakland. We have future-forward aspirations. We have rural gesticulations and intonations. We know you’ve never heard of our favorite architects. We know you’ve probably never heard of us. We are willing to deny any of this if it isn’t any fun.

Rael San Fratello is Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello