Submitted by Parisa Ziaesaeidi

Trace of Aboriginal History in Australian Architecture

Australia Architecture News - Sep 21, 2020 - 11:41   7954 views

Trace of Aboriginal History in Australian Architecture

Aboriginal culture and history come from the time between 60,000 to 80,000 years. This time was when Aborigines first settled in Australia.

"Archaeologists have been able to date remains and findings as far back as 40,000 to 60,000 years from discoveries of primal campsites. There is no written language for Australian Aboriginal People so to convey their important cultural stories through the generations it is portrayed by symbols/icons through their artwork. Indigenous art centred on storytelling is used as a chronicle to convey knowledge of the land, events and beliefs of the Aboriginal people," reported by aboriginal-art-australia.

Therefore, the use of these symbols is an alternate way to writing down the stories of cultural significance, teaching survival and use of the land. Within understanding the aboriginal history, Jess Austin and Kiong Lee have tried to show how history and culture can be connected to the place. 

Jess Austin’s design principles for designing the University of Sydney, Health Precinct with following aboriginal history could be an example of how history and art presented into the architecture.


Image © Australian Institute of Architects

Jess Austin said, "the key concept was to pull the landscape through the project to weave it up and into the real spaces of the building. It has been tried to be the landscape not just reminiscent of the landscape."


Image © Australian Institute of Architects

Jess Austin has tried to experience the culture by providing the opportunity of looking at the building. To be connected to the landscape, water elements are used to give people a sense of rich history and a sense of a future possibility.



Image © Australian Institute of Architects   

The façade is unique by using a solar system designed into the outside with reflecting the indigenous art.


Image © Australian Institute of Architects


The land is the main principle to design the Chau Chak Wing Museum located at the University of Sydney. It was the starting point as it is a natural setting and human history. 

Kiong Lee said, "it is a simple statement of the country but an important reminder to understand that the place has its beginnings from the first people of this land."


Image © Australian Institute of Architects

The land is more resilient to its human history that the architect learned from indigenous heritage. And in the sense of living with the land rather than simply upon it. The building is not as a container but more as a series of sight interventions. Landscape and the building create a unique and sensory experience of place.


Image © Australian Institute of Architects

Top image courtesy of aboriginal-art-australia.

The interviews reported by Reconciliation Conversations - Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu - Member Lean In session.

> via Australian Institute of Architects