The Caged Trees of the Central West
86530 SPR 2018 Spatial Agency

Over the last 15 – 20 years, councils in Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi country have initiated a practice of caging scar and carved Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi trees, ostensibly to protect them from acts of desecration. Once caged the trees are more visible in the landscape and perversely, more contested as signifiers of Indigenous place belonging. In the last few years, several caged trees have been completely destroyed as a result of carefully planned premeditated acts of desecration.

The studio requires students to conceive site specific, culturally appropriate, alternative design solutions to the current practice of placing Aboriginal culturally modify trees in cages.

The studio has a number of aims including introducing students to Aboriginal culture, people and protocols; familiarising students with the complexities of Australian colonial race relations and assigning students a contemporary, culturally important, cross-culture architecture and spatial design brief. The studio seeks to demonstrate how architecture and spatial design can make positive contributions to the preservation of Aboriginal culture.

The studio’s theoretical framework will be informed through consultation with the projects Indigenous stakeholders, and Studio Leader Mat Gallois’s extensive knowledge of the region’s history of race relations. Students will undertake research, study precedents, engage a process of community consultation during a week-long field trip and conceive and document their design proposals over the 12 week semester.

The brief represents a challenging design assignment. Students will be given creative discretion and scope to maximise their dynamic, lateral problem solving design processes.

Stakeholders include Dubbo Local Aboriginal Land Council, River Bank Frank, Aboriginal Elder, Peter Peckham, a local Aboriginal tour guide, Heritage Division Office of Environment and Heritage, State Library of NSW and Dubbo Western Plains Cultural Centre.

To ballot for this studio you must be willing to travel Dubbo from the 2nd-8th of September 2018.

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