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Indigenous Studio


Indigenous Studio: the 2011 Architecture for Humanity International Education Outreach Program

In 2010 Architecture for Humanity initiated a cross-cultural international studio focusing on issues facing the Pacific rim. The studio was taught in four countries on three continents. For 2011, Indigenous Studio is focused on community-requested projects on indigenous lands. Involving students of architecture stretching from Native America, to Polynesia to Australasia, the projects are connected by their native-to-place focus and shared challenges – creating culturally appropriate gathering spaces, examining indigenous materials and technologies, restoring water, food and farming sovereignty, creating sustainable livelihoods and safe housing. Led by indigenous elders and local architecture practitioners working with students in nearby accredited architecture programs. Facilitated by Architecture for Humanity staff and Head of Education Outreach , Nathaniel Corum, the parallel studio program focuses the insight and knowledge of a diverse and committed team of socially-responsible designers and supporting organizations. Collaborating with tribal colleges, Malama Kauai, the Maori Centre for Architecture and the Dreaming Festival, we will work towards design solutions together with several indigenous communities. Designs generated in the Studio will be ‘open sourced’ through Creative Commons licensing on the Open Architecture Network.

The parallel studio program offers architecture students and faculties a studio menu of courses; real-world design challenges that have been requested of Architecture for Humanity by indigenous communities:

1. DESIGN A NOMADS’ PAVILION: To gather indigenous artists, musicians and storytellers, the Creative Director of the Dreaming, Australia’s International Indigenous Festival, has invited studio participants to submit designs for the Festival anticipated in June 2011.

2 . DESIGN A NAVIGATION SCHOOL : To teach indigenous oceanic technologies, a Polynesian wayfinder has requested a boatbuilding and navigation station on a coastal site on New Zealand’s North Island.

In 2010 Pac Rim students within the Maori Centre for Architecture (Unitec) built a star compass together with elder/wayfinder H. In 2011 the collaboration will continue with the design/build of educational and boatbuilding structures.

3. DESIGN A COMMUNITY AGRICULTURE CENTER: To navigate back to island food security, a Hawaiian locale with a history of agriculture needs a gathering place for local, beyond-organic farmers.

Each studio lead will be led by a local elder working together with a regional architecture program/professor(s) in a collaborative framework. For example, The Dreaming Festival will have a local Elder endorse the Nomad Pavilion process. Design solutions will come from the students and studio participants working together with elders and indigenous community members. Participating schools (anticipated for 2011) include: University of California at Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Maori Centre for Architecture (Unitec, New Zealand), University of Hawaii at Manoa, and University of Sydney (Australia).


Australia, New Zealand, USA


Project Details

NAME: Indigenous Studio
PROJECT LEAD: Indigenous elders with Dillon Kombumerri, Juan Miro, Kris Palagi, Hakim Cherkaoui, Nathaniel Corum & Cameron Sinclair
LOCATION: Australia, New Zealand, USA
START DATE: July 14, 2010
CURRENT PHASE: Design development