Lecture 2. The architectures and infrastructure of pre-colonial Australian Aboriginal societies

The lecture focuses on the architectures and infrastructure of precolonial Australian Aboriginal societies. This period has also been titled ‘classical’ ethno-architecture, ’classical’ Aboriginal architecture, vernacular architecture, and traditional architecture. This lecture discusses that prior to British invasion in 1788, the architecture typologies and infrastructures of Aboriginal settlements across Australia were rich, varied and diverse. This lecture is in three parts: 1. An introduction to the diversity of Aboriginal cultures 2. The factors influencing architectural typologies and infrastructure. 3. A series of three case studies, demonstrating diverse types of architecture and infrastructure. Case Studies 1. Stone constructions of the Gunditjmara people of south-eastern Australia 2. The architectural typologies of Aboriginal groups in Arnhem Land 3. The wet topics architectures of the Rainforest Peoples of Queensland The lecture demonstrates Indigenous Australian peoples were organized, innovative civilizations, as evidenced by the various architectures and infrastructure. • Precolonial Aboriginal societies had special architectural styles and/or expression of artistic values that were generated under stringent design rules. The three cases studies presented in this lecture are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of understandings of the nature of Indigenous life and architecture prior to invasion. • Most studies of Australian Aboriginal architectures have focused on domestic dwellings with few studies of community infrastructure, ceremonial architecture or settlement design. There is a lacuna in knowledge due to the size and diversity of Australia. • Unlike other countries, there are few instances (the use of whalebones is the one exception) where animal products (i.e., hides) were used as construction materials, and the use of adobe is documented but rare. Like many other countries, the materiality of Aboriginal architecture changed extensively after colonisation. • There is still much to be gleamed from oral histories, colonial records and other investigations to further the knowledge base. • Lessons learned from Indigenous architecture are valuable, providing an important link between people and the environment. They help identify the unique characteristics of people, places, cultures, and climates, forcing the observer to think how to establish a community for survival and to minimize need.

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Lecture Notes