Designing with Country: Embracing Aboriginal Philosophies in Design

Designing with Country blog series #2 of 5
click here for episode #1 The Current Theories

In this blog episode we shift our focus to the heart of the matter – embracing Aboriginal philosophies in design. By incorporating principles such as “relationally,” “congenial fellowship,” and “storytelling,” architects and designers can create spaces that truly resonate with the land, people, and traditions. Here we will explore each philosophy’s transformative influence on design.

Realising the interdependence of all living things, everything is interconnected in Aboriginal philosophy, including the land, water, sky, plants, animals, and humanity. Designing with Country from a relational perspective entail recognising and valuing these connections. Thus, designers can construct spaces that foster harmony and equilibrium between the natural and built environments.

Applying relational thinking in design, architects and designers can embrace relational thinking by incorporating elements that foster a sense of unity and interconnectedness. One example is the Hobart Waterfront Project in Tasmania. The project not only preserved the natural landscape but also incorporated traditional gathering spaces where people could connect and the environment.

Advancing ecological durability using a relational design approach entails fostering ecological sustainability. By comprehending the delicate equilibrium between human activities and nature, designers can create environments that minimise ecological impact and safeguard the Earth’s resources.

Congenial fellowship places an emphasis on the value of the collective, in which the wellbeing of the community is prioritised over the desires of individual members. This place the collective ahead of the individual in terms of importance. This theory is called “Designing with Country,” and it asks for creating spaces tailored to meet the community’s requirements. This helps to cultivate a sense of belonging and community.

Towards an inclusive approach to design, friendly interaction inspires the development of public places that are open to participation from all community members and do not exclude anyone. It is the responsibility of the designers of a space to consider the many requirements of its users, such as those of children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities in order to create an environment that is inviting and accessible to all.

The development of amicable relationships can be significantly aided by providing public places. They make it possible for community members to communicate with one another, celebrate their culture, and share their thoughts. For instance, the bustling Federation Square in Melbourne, welcomes people from all walks of life and symbolises the city’s multifaceted character since it brings people from all walks of life together.

Keeping traditions and knowledge alive through the power of storytelling – the passing on of information, history, and knowledge from one generation to the next is accomplished primarily through storytelling in Aboriginal culture. Storytelling is an important component of Designing with Country because it enables places to become live reflections of a country’s cultural heritage and identity.

Utilising a narrative in the development process, architects and designers can infuse a space with a sense of narrative through indigenous artwork, symbols, and themes symbolic of the community’s history and traditions. Taking this approach results in creating places that evoke sentiments of pride and a sense of connection to the land and the tales it carries. These spaces can be found all over the world.

The practice of respecting the oral traditions of Aboriginal cultures is required to include storytelling in design. Designers must collaborate with cultural custodians and older community members to guarantee that cultural narratives are appropriately represented and preserved.

In the next instalment of Designing with Country, we delve into the concept of “Two-Way Learning and Sharing” and its potential to revolutionise the design process. Through a collaborative approach, Designing with Country can lead to co-created spaces that honour the past, serve the present, and ensure a sustainable future.

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At YarnnUp, we offer a wide range of resources and programs to provide organisations with a holistic and comprehensive approach to their reconciliation journey including Design Principles in Construction.
Want to know more? Our contact details can be found here when you’d like to have a yarn.

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We honour and recognise the fact that First Nations peoples, our people, have cared for and safeguarded the lands we now call home.

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