Lecture 5. Affirming and reaffirming Indigenous presence through architecture and design

The recognition of Indigenous cultural domains by institutions has fundamentally changed since the mid-twentieth century, when architects (almost exclusively non-Indigenous Australians at that time) first accepted and then later celebrated Indigenous cultures and identity/s in building design. This lecture discusses exemplars of architectural design and examples that illustrate various architectural approaches, debates and discourses. These new building typologies provide an architecture that often speaks to the public, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and raises the issues of how buildings represent Indigenous identities and how the architecture may meet such a challenge through design It is presented in two parts: 1. Indigenous architecture as a people-/place-based human It notes that Indigenous architecture—as a people-/place-based human endeavour with its own traditions and genealogy—has always existed. It has produced and continues to produce a coherent corpus of undeniable architecture. Indigenous architecture is grounded in expression as a structural response to Indigenous cultural values and the ‘framing of space’ to enhance these values, as defining characteristics. The destruction of much traditional Indigenous architectural culture is intrinsically linked to the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral or traditional lands. Colonization involved the invasion and conquering of peoples for their land, waters and resources, and it required the elimination—physically and conceptually—of their architecture. It is very significant to note that the process of colonization is on-going with Indigenous sites and architectures continuing to be destroyed and cultures erased. 2. A discourse on Indigenous Architecture There has been a global rise of contemporary architecture by, with and for Indigenous peoples, who wish to claim, reclaim and revitalise the built environment, and to create places and spaces that are congruent with and reflective of Indigenous lifestyles, histories, cultures and communities, and that celebrate Indigenous identity/s. Indigenous architecture is at its essence a critical mechanism for expressing or articulating alternate narratives, in built and natural form, and is a social movement in itself. Architecture must be constructed from Indigenous knowledge/s, Indigenous values and Indigenous processes to be Indigenous architecture. The lecture illustrates (using Yagan Square, Perth Australia) as a case study that as an aspirational architecture, it also aims to converse at an almost existential level with fundamentals such as: 1. What does Indigenous self-determination look like? 2. What does self-sufficiency and sustainability look like? 3. How might cultural and spiritual values be best articulated in built form? 4. Given Indigenous architecture is both in nature and an extension of nature and exists in a symbiotic rather than parasitic or abusive relationship with nature, what does building with and from, rather than against the natural world look like? Indigenous values, principles and conceptualisations of space are the substrata of and for Indigenous architecture, design and the built form. And, in a mutually reinforcing self-perpetuating loop the resultant form continues to buttress and underpin these same values, principles and links to place and even derivations of the Indigenous aesthetic.

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Lecture Notes