Australian Property Developers Embrace Indigenous Perspectives in Design

Australian Property Developers Embrace Indigenous Perspectives in Design

In a significant shift towards more inclusive and culturally sensitive design practices, Australian property developers are increasingly seeking insights from Indigenous voices. The concept of Designing with Country is becoming integral to new developments, with consultations prioritized to ensure the protection of sensitive sites and respect for Aboriginal cultural knowledge. Australian Property Developers Embrace Indigenous Perspectives in Design

Architecture and insights firm HDR has identified Designing with Country as one of the seven “megatrends” shaping architecture, the built environment, and city-shaping in 2023. This trend reflects a broader movement towards reconciliation in Australia, with architecture practices aiming to foster genuine relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as non-Indigenous Australians.

Australian Property Developers Embrace Indigenous Perspectives in Design

Jacqui Straesser, director at HDR, emphasizes the need for society to embrace this approach. While frameworks exist for Designing with Country, she notes that there is a lack of basic knowledge on how to implement it into new projects. Despite some developers resisting this approach due to perceived costs, the benefits of incorporating Indigenous perspectives are significant.

Consultants specializing in this area are scarce, with firms like Bangawarra leading the way in challenging colonial design practices by integrating ancestral knowledge and culture into the design process.

Many architectural firms are now undertaking projects that demonstrate a deep understanding of Indigenous perspectives. For example, the $1.4 billion Sydney office building, which will house tech giant Atlassian, enlisted the expertise of Indigenous architect Kevin O’Brien of BVN.

Similarly, the $50 million Office of Environment and Heritage NSW in Kurnell incorporated Indigenous perspectives into its design process. Neeson Murcutt Architects, responsible for the project, emphasized that while design cannot erase the impact of colonial occupation, it can provide a platform for diverse cultures and dialogue.

The New South Wales Government has released a draft framework to assist developers and architects in understanding the value of Aboriginal knowledge in the design and planning of places. The aim is to facilitate collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, fostering unity and collective knowledge around Designing with Country concepts.

As Australia continues its journey towards reconciliation, the integration of Indigenous perspectives into design practices represents a crucial step towards a more inclusive and culturally rich built environment.

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