Remote Area and Community led Research: Social-ecological Construction
This seminar contextualises remote area research in Australia as characteristically Indigenous with a set of compound building challenges that bear greater resemblance to economically developing contexts internationally than urban contexts domestically. Due to an underrepresentation of remote areas in systems and construction literature, and neglect of the smallest Indigenous settlements in government policy, there is a significant gap in understandings. Furthermore, the small scale and isolation of remote contexts provides fertile ground for community led research innovation across the technological, environmental, socio-cultural and economic dimensions of construction.
Originating in volunteer work and practical projects, this seminar charts the evolution of a socio-ecological approach that seeks to understand the role of construction design, systems and policies in remote area and community led contexts . This seminar explains the key research findings of both traditional academic outputs and non-traditional research outputs including built works, consultancy reports and policy white papers. The seminar discusses how the Olkola Cultural Knowledge Centre Project at Monash University is informing an emergent best practice in ethical research conduct with Indigenous communities, teaching innovation and practical outcomes in response to local needs. The seminar concludes by explaining that the process of making, rather than the final built outcome is what matters most in remote building, and that in these contexts a single project has the ability to catalyse further local socio-ecological development.
Dr Hannah Robertson combines a socially driven and contextually responsive design approach with policy experience to work with remote communities. She has worked on building and design projects with Indigenous communities in Cape York and Arnhem Land, Australia. Her master's thesis 'Bush Owner Builder' involved collaborative self-building on homelands surrounding Hope Vale, Cape York and was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architect's President's Dissertation Medal and a commendation in the Architecture Institute of Australia's Colourbond Steel Biennale. Hannah was awarded her PhD in architecture from in 2018. Her study is based in remote Northeast Arnhem Land and investigates how a territorial and regional resource based approach to building can contribute to the development of local industry and the enhanced satisfaction o f human needs. This study also received the University of Melbourne's John Grice Award for Best Architecture PhD and the Chartered Institute of Building Research Award. As Innovation Fellow at Monash University's Art, Design & Architecture Faculty she continues to research and teach in these pursuits. In particular, we are currently working on a collaborative teaching and research project with the Centre for Appropriate Technology and Olkola Aboriginal Corporation to co-design and build a Cultural Knowledge Centre at Sandy Creek Bore, Cape York.