QUT Campus to Country
The QUT Campus to Country positioning strategy is about privileging local Aboriginal culture within the future masterplan of an educational campus. It aims to achieve this in two ways: first, through face-to-face consultation on an ongoing basis with QUT’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy), Elder-in-Residence, the Oodgeroo Unit (QUT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support centre) and members of QUT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student community; and second, through a culturally led, urban and architectural framework that establishes applicable manoeuvres for enabling opportunities to connect with Country.
Collaboration – a fundamental prerequisite of the strategy – is needed for all future works within the QUT masterplan and heavily influences the standard approach to procurement and building delivery. The strategy is based on relationships and requires ongoing engagement between QUT (and its future architectural agents) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
QUT has begun to establish the long-term relationships and structures required to enable future architects to engage in a meaningful way.
This project came out of a deeply informed process of engagement and conversation with the representatives identified above, in addition to QUT’s Facilities Management. In alignment with BVN’s vision, “Collective creativity to design a better future,” all parties contributed to and influenced the final proposition. The generosity of the Campus to Country positioning strategy is that it is about sharing culture and knowledge.
The Larrakia Cultural Centre (LCC) will be an important new development for the Larrakia people and the whole Darwin community. The site rests between a Larrakia sacred site (Stokes Hill) and the sea. This is an essential relationship as the Larrakia are “saltwater people.”
The LCC will exhibit Larrakia culture and history in various ways, to showcase Darwin’s ancient history, as well as provide a place for Larrakia people to practise their living culture, including teaching and sharing Larrakia language.
The client, Larrakia Development Corporation (LDC), has been collaborating with the LCC Working Group since 2017 to develop and deliver the project. To ensure that we undertake this project in a culturally appropriate way, and deliver a design that will support client and community aspirations, we have been guided by the LDC and the Working Group throughout the process. Before any design work was initiated, multiple workshops were held to inform the sketch design and concept.
Each stage of the design involves questions back and forth and presentations to the LDC and Working Group for feedback. The design develops responsively, in line with the feedback. Sometimes, this process requires multiple iterations, until every Working Group and LDC member is satisfied with the outcome.
LDC and the Working Group’s ongoing feedback has been essential, not only in guiding the design culturally and environmentally but also in challenging us to push the boundaries in how the form and overall design can respond to their concept. We have been grappling with balancing technical requirements with their strong vision for the LCC. However, we are grateful for, and enthusiastic about, how this process has shaped something unique and powerful, so far. We will continue to work as a collaborative team to ensure that this dedicated methodology is maintained for the final outcome.
There are also other opportunities for Larrakia community members to be involved in the design. A cultural adviser for endemic plants and biomes has been collaborating with the landscape architect. Larrakia artists will embed their storytelling and skills into the fabric of LCC. The nine Larrakia families within the community will be invited to give their input into the stories, messages and media of the exhibition space. Consultation will be undertaken by Larrakia research assistants directly engaged by the exhibition design team.
George Street Plaza is envisioned as a dynamic new community place that will reinvigorate Sydney’s Circular Quay district as well as address the complex relationship between colonizers and Indigenous communities. Driven by the desire to defeat the idea that history begins at the time of conquest and to reveal the stories that existed prior to conquest, the project is a collaboration between lead design architect Adjaye Associates and artist Daniel Boyd, with Architectus as executive architect.
The genesis of the design was a dialogue between David Adjaye and Boyd on contemplating our relationships in and with the world. Spaces become places when they’re embedded with culture, narrative and meaning; therefore, the question of what story is being told is always present within the built environment. The architecture of George Street Plaza draws upon the forgotten histories of Aboriginal cultures as a means of innovating a future built upon a shared understanding of the past.
The centrepiece of the project – a perforated canopy – weaves together past and present innovations to create a community experience defined by shelter and the intricate sculpting of light. Originating from the idea of placemaking in Aboriginal culture and the primary need for shelter, the canopy integrates a public artwork that heightens physical and spatial consciousness through its interplay with natural light. As light enters the structure through the perforated dawar (meaning “star” in the language of the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal peoples), the duality of perception is highlighted where the repeated pattern and filtered light create a unified form, activated by the public.
As a space of collective engagement, the seating zones take inspiration from an Aboriginal grinding stone found within the context of the site. In this seating, produced from a single piece of local, coarse-grained sandstone, artifacts of the past support the community, literally and figuratively. Ultimately, George Street Plaza transforms a collaboration and dialogue between artist and architect, past and present, null and void into an entangled space of community gathering.