In his 1960 book ‘The Australian Ugliness’, Australian Architect Robin Boyd warns of the growing visual pollution in the suburbs, which he described as ‘second hand American’. Sixty years later, Aboriginal Designer Alison Page proposes a radical intervention to these confused styles and mixed ideas that continue to dominate architecture globally and that is to listen to the culture of Country and build local identities. In the Indigenous worldview everything is part of Country, even all things man-made. There is land, sea and sky Country. Time is distorted in Country. The built environment is an extension of the land, houses are second skins, and our objects are seen as living entities. Therefore, an architecture that is coherent to nature is seen as an essential biological element of society. To build on Country is a transformational perspective for designers and architects: to be part of a design ethos that views the creation of the built environment as an extension of our Creation Stories; that these ‘things’ could be sung into existence with a purpose of clarity that reinforces our connection to Country and our ecological responsibility to care for it. Alison will demonstrate how Aboriginal design principles of sophisticated function, sustainability and storytelling, refined over many millennia, are now being applied to contemporary practices.
Alison Page is the founder of the National Aboriginal Design Agency and co founder of ZAKPAGE, a creative partnership between artists Alison Page and Nik Lachajczak, who co-create with indigenous communities in Australia and elsewhere. She teaches at the School of Design, University of Technology Sydney, and is also an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University’s School of Communication and Creative Arts. She has recently co-authored Design: Building on Country with the architect and anthropologist, Paul Memmott. Her talk will deal with participatory design and indigenous communities.