GroupGSA Celebrates Reconciliation Week

Words by Lisa-Maree Carrigan

Building Bridges between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians

GroupGSA is proud to join the rest of Australia in celebrating Reconciliation Week, a time to reflect on the shared histories, cultures, and achievements of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and to build bridges of understanding and respect.

This year’s Reconciliation Week theme, “Be a Voice for Generations”, encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise. It also hints to the forthcoming referendum to enshrine a First Nations voice to Parliament in our national constitution. At GroupGSA, we are committed to doing our part to support reconciliation, both within our own company and in the wider community.

As a multidisciplinary design practice with studios across Australia, we have a unique opportunity to work with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities and organisations on a range of projects, from urban design and architecture to public art, landscape architecture and interior design. We recognise the importance of engaging with Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and aspirations in our work, and of ensuring that our designs reflect and celebrate the diversity and richness of Indigenous cultures.

One example of our commitment to reconciliation is our ongoing partnership with UTS offering the GroupGSA Indigenous Architecture Scholarship, which aims to support a thriving Indigenous contribution to architectural culture and production, representing approaches to issues of design, construction, sustainability, and landscape by providing financial assistance to an Indigenous student and the opportunity for a paid cadetship with GroupGSA. (Link to more info)

Another example is our soon to be endorsed Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which sets out a tranche of actions to be taken in the next twelve months, affecting every aspect of our business from HR to project methodologies.

At GroupGSA, we understand that reconciliation is a continuous journey, one that requires ongoing dialogue, learning, and action. We are committed to working with Indigenous communities and organisations to build a better future for all Australians, and to creating designs and spaces that reflect the diversity and resilience of Indigenous cultures.

As we mark Reconciliation Week this year, we encourage all Australians to take action in support of reconciliation, whether that means learning more about Indigenous history and culture, supporting Indigenous-led initiatives and businesses, or advocating for policies that promote equity and justice for all Australians.

Together, we can build a more just, inclusive, and reconciled Australia.

Eden Street, Arncliffe

GroupGSA worked closely with Michael Hromek, Technical Executive – Indigenous Design, Architecture and Knowledge at WSP, on the site planning for this $300m development on a 1.3 hectare site near to Arncliffe train station. Non-Indigenous artist Richard Briggs was engaged to translate Indigenous stories of Country into a series of sketch artworks. The resulting master plan is heavily guided by the Aboriginal design principles that were identified through consultation with Elders and Traditional Owners.

Microsoft Workplace

GroupGSA was engaged by Microsoft to design their new Sydney workplace. Together with Microsoft and real estate partner Colliers, we engaged Aboriginal-owned design and strategy studio Balarinji to develop a design concept for several murals as well as an acknowledgement of Country plaque in the foyer, to be integrated into the design scheme. The outcome exceeded all expectations, greatly enriching the experience of the workplace and providing a tangible connection to Country and the Traditional Custodian’s continuous living culture.

Opal St Ives

GroupGSA’s Architecture and Urban Design teams worked closely with WSP’s Indigenous Specialist Services team to prepare a Connection to Country Framework for the redevelopment of this aged care facility in Sydney’s Upper North Shore. The master plan balances a number of considerations including connection to landscape and views, configuration of uses, topography and walkability. The outcome is a design that feels intimate and of its place, rather than institutional and homogenous.

GroupGSA’s Landscape Architecture team is leading the preparation of a management plan for the iconic Maroubra Beach, on Bidjigal and Gadigal Country. Together with Randwick City Council, we engaged with Traditional Owners and other stakeholders to identify the site’s challenges and opportunities and develop a clear set of objectives, priorities, timeframes and performance targets, by which to measure success.

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Lisa-Maree Carrigan Author

Lisa-Maree is Director of Architecture & Urban Design globally at GroupGSA. She leads engagement of teams and clients through design collaboration and strategic direction

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