Koodaideri Operations Village Design Report

  • Maximise the benefit of the landscape and the local amenity of the Hamersley Range.
    Maximise the benefit of the landscape and the local amenity of the Hamersley Range.
  • In hot dry climates people require protection from the sun.
    In hot dry climates people require protection from the sun.
  • Semi private space promotes interaction with other people.
    Semi private space promotes interaction with other people.
  • Koodaideri Operations Village Design Report
  • Successful villages have a tight-knit core. The design process undertaken identified the best viewing corridors through the village.
    Successful villages have a tight-knit core. The design process undertaken identified the best viewing corridors through the village.

Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining companies and one of the single largest generators of economic wealth within Western Australia. Rio Tinto has a clear focus on the economic development of sustainable communities that provide for social wellbeing. The design of the Koodaideri Operations Village represents a different approach to accommodating staff in a remote location over a 60-year period. This focus on the health and wellbeing of the staff supports Rio Tinto as an employer of choice.

Description of project

Rio Tinto embarked on a process to establish a design vision of a village that supports the health and wellbeing of employees in the remote Western Australian landscape. The project identified a new approach to accommodating 900 employees. This vision required Rio Tinto to think innovatively about its processes and progress through a consultative and inclusive design approach. These are the key design stages.  

Establish a vision

  • By establishing a vision for the project, the complex process of balancing competing demands is easier. The vision was for the village to be a healthy, safe and environmentally conscious place. A refuge outside of work hours, a place of respite, rest and social interaction. It will be a permanent village servicing the mine becoming a genuine community and a home away from home.


  • The master planned approach to Koodaideri Village involved working closely with Rio Tinto, from initial site visit, to the vision and design workshop. This collaborative approach enabled Rio Tinto personnel to challenge their traditional work patterns. This process allowed for the sharing of central facilities (recreation, dining, entertainment, retail, administration) between the operations village and the nearby construction camp, bringing them together and enabling a potential cost saving of millions of dollars.

Establish principles

  • Early on in the project an agreed set of urban design principles were developed and embedded into the design.

Community Design

  • The village plan provides a robust structure of walkable precincts that lead to a cohesive ‘village’ centre with a strong sense of place and well-planned public realm. 


  • An integrated approach to the design of open space links to the wider environment. At the centre of the site is a grassed oval, ringed by an activity track. The prominence of the oval within the design emphasises the importance of active living and provides a significant symbol of healthy recreation. 

Movement Network

  • An interconnected network of streets are safe, promote ‘way finding’, and support walking and cycling. The plan promotes the pedestrian experience and supports ease of access to the village hub by segregating pedestrians and cars.


  • The village plan provides a diversity of accommodation types, with appropriate orientation to minimise heat gain and provide shelter from the sun and wind. There are many unit options for single occupants as well as family and executive units. 


  • A close relationship with the landscape is encouraged with trees and planting used for shading, cooling, and the creation of a microclimate. 


  • It is important for the employees to enjoy the benefits of good design similar to those in the towns and cities of Western Australia. To ensure and measure the success of this permanent village, the design ethos and parameters are tested against a matrix of ‘enhanced design criteria’ established during the design process. This enables Rio Tinto to refine the design of the village over time and establish places with positive health and wellbeing outcomes into the future. 
Project team
  • Rio Tinto
Project cost



The Koodaideri Village plan establishes many health, economic, environmental, social and use benefits.

Health value

The design of the Koodaideri Village Operations supports wellbeing and healthy active outcomes by:

  • Adopting a design philosophy for a healthy and active community
  • Grouping of communal facilities around active sporting spaces
  • Overcoming the perception of arid and harsh landscape
  • Providing facilities for training and self-improvement
  • Providing facilities that require team participation 

The Koodaideri Village Operations Plan has established health and wellbeing criteria:

  • Create an environment with positive visual amenity, liveability and activity within the village (e.g. landscaping, native vegetation, green spaces, public/community art projects, walkability).
  • Provide connecting, safe, attractive, well-lit and efficient shared pathways in and around the village.
  • Provide appropriate bicycle parking for residents and visitors in secure areas away from heavy road traffic.
  • Provide additional recreational facilities (i.e. indoor cricket and soccer).
  • Incorporate public art throughout prominent landscaped areas and common areas.
  • Establish communal gardens and specific activity areas (e.g. men’s shed and Aboriginal cultural spaces).
  • Provide a shared pathway/cycleway in and around the village, and connecting to the mine site.
Economic value
  • Staff attraction and retention is an issue that influences financial performance, reputation, productivity, and worker wellbeing. A study by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at the University of Queensland found that staff turnover in the mining industry is higher than the national average: 21.7% compared to 15%. The average length of service at mines in Western Australia is 5.1 years, with an annual turnover (excluding contractors) of 19.6%, particularly in fly-in fly-out operations. Costs range from $10,000 to $50,000 per loss of staff member. There is also a decrease in morale and loss of site-specific knowledge. State turnover rates of above 20% result in poor productivity in Australian mining operations. The Koodaideri Village Operations Plan supports the employees’ physical and mental health with the expectation that levels of dissatisfaction with both their working and living arrangements will be lessened, therefore reducing staff turnover.  
  • Financial gain attracts a workforce yet has little impact on the retention of employees, as remuneration rates are generally high across the mining industry. What makes workers stay, according to research from Edith Cowan University, are good relations and colleagues, career and training prospects, and facilities such as gyms, pools and open recreational spaces.
Environmental value
  • The Koodaideri Village Operations Plan adopts a site responsive layout by working with the environment to capitalise on the amenity of the creek lines running down to the distant Fortescue Marshes. The plan relocated the construction camp east towards the operation village, with the operations village being located further south, back into the foothills of the Hamersley Ranges thus offering operations employees an elevated outlook and protection from the easterly wind.
Social value

Accommodation clusters support a sense of community and are important to the wellbeing of employees. The Koodaideri Village Operations Plan layout:

  • Seeks to develop interaction between individuals
  • Provides obvious points of contact
  • Is designed for both male and female employees, equally
  • Caters for disabled access
  • Promotes social media and family communication
  • Provides semi-private external spaces


  • Rio Tinto has recognised that amenity, aesthetic, ecological, spatial, and health factors can contribute to a better working and living environment for employees. Koodaideri is a permanent accommodation village that will be home to between 750 and 900 mineworkers. The majority of these workers will be fly-in fly-out from the young, single, male demographic. Rio Tinto has indicated it is critical to create a design for inclusion of gender, culture and age in order to support those from other demographic groups already within the industry, and to encourage others to join the mining workforce. The Koodaideri design will provide a range of accommodation options (in particular for working couples) and recreation facilities.
  • Remuneration in the mining industry is high. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that of all Australian workers, average weekly cash earnings were highest for mining industry employees however living in a remote and arid climate can be difficult. There are also other associated challenges: isolation, long rotation rosters, loneliness, depression, substance abuse, family and relationship strain, and sleep disturbance. The Koodaideri Village Operations Plan attempts to address these challenges by providing an improved living environment while on site. 
Use value
  • Koodaideri Village has adopted the design principle that successful remote operations camps allow for informal interactions with individuals and groups, creating a village feel. Allowing for interaction supports improved psychological wellbeing and reduces feelings of isolation. 
  • The accommodation design provides an external terrace or balcony with a full height glass screen. The screen gives a better visual connection to the surrounds whilst the terrace creates a buffer zone between private and public space. This allows occupants to be in their unit without feeling exposed, or to sit out ‘on the veranda’ and interact with those passing by. The sense of ownership created by these individual verandas and the activated two storey street environment are key elements in developing a sense of social cohesion.

Koodaideri Operations Village Design Report, 2012

Type of project
Scale of project
Local Area