Designing with culture

Community & Co-design
by Corey

It is a rare trait among designers to have a sensitivity to culture when responding to a project brief. Architects cannot successfully design responsive housing, workplaces and shared meeting places for people unless there is an understanding of what drives their everyday behaviour. This includes culturally distinct characteristics such as the structures of socio-spatial behaviour; a heightened sensitivity to outdoor space; different concepts of privacy and crowding; and unique attitudes to sharing of possessions, including shelter.

Edmiston Jones is conscious of the growing indifference to our regional culture. The NSW South Coast is a culturally diverse area with many nationalities calling the region home. At the recent Co-Design of Intergenerational Spaces event our Danish friends from arki_lab, Rasmus Frisk and Thomas Aarup Due as well as Uncle Max ‘Dulumunmun’ Harrison, a respected local Aboriginal elder, talked about intergenerational space  and the associated social structures in their respective cultures. Their insights have awoken within me, and many others who attended the presentation, a better understanding of the benefits for the community that flow from integrating different perspectives into the design of the built environment.

At Edmiston Jones, we take this knowledge to heart and apply it to each design on its merit, appreciating the many cultures that contribute to our society. There is no one universal solution, just an understanding and approach that recognises the sensitivities of the various groups that will inhabit and use the spaces we design. This is informed by the cultural diversity in our office which includes people from Spain, Catalonia, Italy, Chile, Japan and England, as well as our partners at arki_lab in Denmark.

I believe it’s not just special people that make a difference.  Ordinary people working with other ordinary people can, and do, change the world. If we all work together, we can achieve the greatest result. This is a philosophy Edmiston Jones apply to ensure each design responds to and reflects the culture in which it was created.

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