Designing with Country: Two-Way Learning And Sharing

Designing with Country blog series #3 of 5

In the previous blog ‘Embracing Aboriginal Philosophies in Design’ we discussed the relevance of the terms “relationally,” “congenial fellowship,” and “storytelling” in the context of Designing with Country. Now we will explore the idea of Two-Way Learning and Sharing which is a philosophy that promotes a cooperative approach to creation. Designers can produce environments that accurately reflect the requirements, principles, and goals of the people they are tasked to serve if they participate in a two-way information-sharing process with local Aboriginal groups.

The Two-Way Learning and Sharing philosophy and the belief that indigenous knowledge holders and designers have distinct perspectives is the basis for Two-Way Learning and Sharing. By sharing their insights, experiences, and knowledge, individuals can better understand the land and culture. This collaborative process results in co-creating spaces that respect tradition while incorporating innovative design solutions.

The foundation of Two-Way Learning and Sharing lies in the philosophy of connecting people from different cultures and backgrounds, enabling them to learn from and with each other. Through the exchange of Aboriginal insights, experiences, and knowledge, designers gain a deeper understanding of the land and culture. This collaborative process leads to the co-creation of spaces that honour tradition while integrating innovative design solutions.

Involving Aboriginal Knowledge Holders requires designers to approach Two-Way Learning and Sharing with humility and respect. The preserving and transmitting cultural knowledge becomes possible through meaningful and inclusive engagement with elder people and cultural specialists.

Through Two-Way Learning and Sharing, designers acquire a profound understanding of the essence and cultural significance of the land. This information informs the design process, resulting in spaces profoundly rooted in the land’s history and positively impacting the community.

Let’s explore some real-life examples of projects embodying the philosophy of ‘two-way learning and sharing’ and their transformative impact on design.

Case Study: The Wirra Hub Community Centre in South Australia:

The Wirra Hub Community Centre was designed in collaboration with the local Ngarrindjeri people. By engaging in Two-Way Learning and Sharing, the design team understood the cultural importance of the site and integrated elements that reflected Ngarrindjeri traditions. The centre now serves as a place of cultural exchange and community empowerment.

Case Study: The Wiluna Martu Rangers Cultural Centre in Western Australia:

The Wiluna Martu Rangers Cultural Centre exemplifies the power of Two-Way Learning and Sharing in promoting cultural understanding and sustainability. The design process involved extensive collaboration with the Martu community, resulting in a centre that celebrates Martu culture and serves as a hub for environmental conservation efforts.

Two-Way Learning and Sharing fosters an appreciation for the indigenous culture’s sustainable practices. By incorporating traditional ecological knowledge and practises, designers can create environmentally responsible and harmonious environments.

Designers must be cognisant of Indigenous intellectual property rights throughout the Two-Way Learning and Sharing process. The use of cultural symbols, stories, and designs should adhere to cultural protocols, and permissions should be requested.

In the next edition of this blog series, we will discuss Design Autonomy. By empowering Aboriginal communities to participate actively in the design process, spaces can authentically reflect their needs, values, and aspirations. Join us as we discuss the significance of autonomy in Designing with Country and its potential to transform the construction and design industries.

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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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YarnnUp acknowledges the profound history of this country.

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

YarnnUp acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of this land. To the Elders past and present, please accept our respects on behalf all nations and language groups. We thank you for allowing YarnnUp to work across the beautiful lands of Australia.