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Reconciliation: Our Responsibility as Architects, Designers and Australians

Insight
01.06.2023Rothelowman

As architects and designers, we understand our role as custodians of the land on which we work. National Reconciliation Week is an opportunity for all Australians to come together to collectively learn about our shared experiences, cultures and achievements as well as encouraging each of us to explore how we can contribute to achieving reconciliation.

Novus on Harris with artwork by Teribelang-Bunda artist Geoff Sellman & designer Simon Alexander Cook

 

As storytellers of place, incorporating the Indigenous narrative of the land is critical. Rothelowman is proud and excited to have commenced a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), as an integral part of ensuring our work is firmly linked with and respectful of its surrounding context.

As we formally commence our reconciliation journey, we are embarking on a ‘Reflect’ RAP, which will help us to define our vision, develop relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, understand our sphere of influence and determine actions that we can take.

We cannot wait to commence this journey and look forward to embracing the role we play in facilitating change.

 

Reconciliation

We understand that we have an opportunity to grow our knowledge and understanding in this area. We challenge ourselves daily to attribute significance to the land we both draw inspiration from and contribute to through our designs. Whilst we exist to tell stories through the built environment, we must ensure we do so thoughtfully, respecting the interconnectedness that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have to the earth, sky, and waterways.

Rothelowman’s design Manifesto places emphasis on ‘urban and cultural context’, which we must attribute significance to through our work. To do so, it is important that we study and embrace the history of the land so we can represent it in built form.

Creating a RAP is one way we can commit to this promise, which extends beyond our Manifesto, and into our responsibility as architects, designers, and ultimately – as Australians.

 

Action

Rothelowman has already begun creating stronger relationships with Indigenous stakeholders. While most relationships have been made at a state level, our mission is to make our impact more widely experienced and structured on a national scale.

In Queensland, we have commenced our journey through engagement with Aboriginal design agency, Blaklash, who has consulted with our team on projects in the region. Outside of project work, Blaklash has been generous in offering their time and expertise to a broader conversation about how we can be influential in making change through our work.

In New South Wales we connected with two Parramatta locals – Teribelang-Bunda artist Geoff Sellman & designer Simon Alexander Cook – for the development of our project, Novus on Harris. Our Kooringal Bridge project in Western Australia was also designed to pay tribute to the Waugyl people.

Finally, by working in collaboration with COLA Studio on Frasers Property Midtown MacPark, we have developed a greater understanding of the Indigenous narrative relevant to our site. This provides us with the opportunity to re-tell the stories of the land in built form: an integral part of our role as architects as we embark on this reconciliation journey.

COLA Studio Director Kaylie Salvatori, a Saltwater Budawang (Yuin) Woman, is a landscape architect, Indigenous design strategist, educator, researcher, and artist. The knowledge she has shared has enhanced the understanding of how we can represent First Nations Australian culture within our work.

These are essential steps in our journey to ensuring relationships with Indigenous stakeholders embody more than just industry engagement, but express a clear commitment to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both within Rothelowman and in the industry.

 

Planning

Rothelowman is enthusiastic about developing a Reflect RAP following engagement with Reconciliation Australia. This isn’t a piece of work that has a defined deadline or end point, it is a continuous journey of education, respect and inclusion that will evolve and develop over time.

Our understanding of and commitment to our RAP will be ever present in our decision-making processes moving forward. As we embark on this journey, Rothelowman will seek guidance and consultation as a way of evolving our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and relevant stakeholders within the property industry.

We are looking forward to seeing what we achieve, learn, and acknowledge together, sharing more information as our RAP evolves.

 

Jackie Arter is the Principal of People and Culture at Rothelowman. She is committed to making people and culture, and the professional development of our teams, a core pillar of our business as it is to our designs. She has a passion for professional development and unparalleled integrity and emotional intelligence. Jackie has been an integral part of the Rothelowman team for the last decade, spearheading the practice’s evolution as a people-centric organisation.

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