Is This Paradise or What?


Mandurah. Image by David Williams


Port Bouvard development, Mandurah. Photograph by David Williams


Is This Paradise or What? is a project that interrogates ‘the dream’ that drives the people of Mandurah, Western Australia, and animates the current housing boom in the local area. A dream similar to much coastal housing development across Australia – real estate sales pitches that reference the ‘natural beauty’ of the setting, selling development precincts that use building techniques and aesthetics that are rarely sympathetic to the local environment. Spectacular local examples in Mandurah include gated communities which blend McMansions and Venice-inspired artificial canals, complete with personal jetties for pleasure yachts. What influences their choices of how residents live in Mandurah, and how sustainable are their choices in a delicate eco-system that is extremely vulnerable to storm surges and sea level rises?

Is This Paradise or What? will be constructed from interviews with a range of people who share ‘the dream’: a recent first-home owner, a canal house owner, a renter who aspires to own their own home, a property developer, a builder, a real estate agent, a sustainability house assessor, a wild life expert, and an environmental officer for the City of Mandurah.