Undertaking my Masters of Architecture at the University of Sydney was a response to the university’s long standing tradition of applied community based projects. I have been fortunate throughout my masters to have participated in multiple Australian and international projects, working with the Yarrabah Indigneous Community in Queensland, the Warburton Indigenous Community of Western Australia, and the Freswind School project with the Olen Community of port Villa Vanuatu.
My research project
The aim of my project is to develop, test and produce a practical pocket guide for use by architects and consultants when designing with Indigenous communities. Foregrounding principles drawn from ‘Freespace 2018’ Venice Biennale, centred around an ‘architecture of possibility’ it will be a tool which aids inclusive culturally sensitive designing and fosters cultural exchange.
Through my own experiences of working with multiple indigenous communities it became apparent that the wider, less tangible spatial issues associated with designing for possibility where harder to speak of in conversations between client and designer. This suggested a need for a guide, a working prompt which identifies and provides ways to discuss and explore such qualitative and intangible issues. This prompt will be visually based and promote ‘exchange through doing’ which circumvents the difficulties of multiple languages and diverse learning systems. I plan to visit the Venice Architecture Biennale, then work closely with the Warburton community to refine the guide through an iterative process of development.
My contribution to the architectural profession and community
My intention is that the guide be relevant and useful when designing for Australian indigenous communities with a wider application to Indigenous communities globally. As an active tool for promoting conversations between architects and Indigenous community members this pocket guide is a small means which goes part way towards acknowledging Indigenous presence and processes of decolonisation. Designing buildings informed through inclusive exchange and legitimate consultation is an important contribution towards creating a meaningful and genuine expression of Indigeneity in our Australian built environment.
The experience of undertaking the Byera Hadley scholarship is lending strength to my own understanding of architecture as a practice that has the ability to enrich local communities, economies and resilience. That in order to influence the quality of life for its occupants, buildings need to participate as engines for social and economic mobility, with a legacy of surplus environmental benefit. Fundamentally I see architecture as a catalyst for opportunity, space potential, possibility and for ideas not yet conceived. This seminal idea has been a key driver throughout my masters and is already influencing my career choices and architectural pathway.
The University of Sydney is at the top of its class in the disciplines of Architecture/Built Environment, Veterinary Science, Nursing and Medicine in the 2016 QS World University Rankings by Subject.