Watch ‘Not an Expert’, a lively online discussion about Cultural Authority and collaboration with Danièle Hromek and Francoise Lane, convened by Sarah Lynn Rees as part of the Asia Pacific Architecture Festival.

The concept and practice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Authority has existed since time immemorial. Now, slowly but surely, the built environment is evolving to embed processes that respect this Cultural Authority. We find ourselves in a transition period where Western and Indigenous world views are not yet aligned with respect to the roles we play throughout the architectural process. A world view of the architect or consultant as ‘expert,’ and stakeholder as someone to be managed and satisfied without compromising design vision does not represent Cultural Authority in practice.

More fundamentally, we need to ask, who holds the Cultural Authority within community? Many Indigenous communities are matriarchal societies with clear gendered societal roles, the structure of which does not align with the patriarchal systems most Australians have grown up with. The impact of this misalignment of world views has resulted in a lopsided experience of our existence, stories and voices. So, how do we ensure we walk the talk? What does Cultural Authority actually mean in practice? How do we respect gendered roles and their respective authorities within communities? And who really are the ‘experts’? (Hint: it’s not us).

Our speakers

Dr Danièle Hromek is a Budawang woman of the Yuin nation, with French and Czech heritage. She is a spatial designer, speculative designer and public artist, fusing design elements with installations, sculptural form and research. She also works as a researcher, educator and cultural advisor considering how to Indigenise the built environment by creating spaces to substantially affect Indigenous rights and culture within an institution.

Danièle works at the intersection of architecture, interiors, urban design, performance design and fine arts. As an Aboriginal researcher and designer, her work is grounded in her cultural and experiential heritage, often considering the urban Aboriginal condition, the Indigenous experience of Country and contemporary Indigenous identities.

Francoise Lane is a Meriam and Kaurareg artist. A Director of Indij Design, she has a background as an award-winning interior designer with a strong reputation for relationship-based community engagement. Francoise currently focuses her design passion in the creation of surface pattern design for use in architecture and textile. She works in tropical Far North Queensland and draws on her Torres Strait Islander heritage and the natural environment to inspire her.

Sarah Lynn Rees is a Palawa woman descending from the Plangermaireener and Trawlwoolway people of northeast Tasmania. She practises architecture at Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (JCBA), where she’s also a lead Indigenous advisor in architecture and design; is program advisor and curator of the BLAKitecture series for Mpavilion, a director of Parlour, and a member of the Victorian Design Review Panel for the Office of the Victorian Government Architect. Sarah’s practice, advisory and research interests are geared towards a long-term aim of Indigenising the built environment.


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