Designing the Olkola Cultural Knowledge Centre: A Traditional Owner-Led Integrated Research and Education Process

  • YEAR
    Robertson, Hannah
    Ross-Symonds, Debbie
    Connolly, Pippa
    2020 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers
    Design Thinking and Innovation


The purpose of this paper is to identify, track and discuss the pedagogical processes involved in an integrated teaching and research project to design and build a Cultural Knowledge Centre on Olkola Country in remote Cape York, Australia. The paper provides an empirical enquiry into the foundational principles and key design, theoretical and practical processes of the collaborative partnership between the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation (OAC), Monash University (and now The University of Melbourne) that has been operating since 2018. This paper focuses on a pedagogical stage in 2019 that saw 320 final year structural, mechanical, transport, environmental and water engineering students team up with 15 masters of architecture student mentors with input from Indigenous Olkola Traditional Owners (TOs) to progress the engineering design concepts and assist with development application preparations. The research provides significant contributions to practical and theoretical understandings of interdisciplinary design education and research that combine traditional cultural and scientific knowledge to support TO needs and aspirations. These lessons have implications for: 1) improved interdisciplinary communication and understanding; 2) the sharing and transfer of technical expertise with TOs; and 3) effective community engagement through architectural science education.

Keywords: integrated education; sustainability; remote building; Indigenous; participatory practices.


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