The International Architecture Biennale is a bi-annual architecture and art festival organised by La Biennale di Venezia, Società di Cultura. The Australian Institute of Architects called for expressions of interest for creative directors in mid 2022 to curate Australia’s exhibit based on theme of the Biennale Architettura 2023 – The Laboratory of the Future.
Our proposal Sanctuary is a collaboration between Alyssa Nelson, Maddie Goldsmith and David Homburg of Baukultur, Natalie Carfora of MOD, Kaurareg Nation descendant Tiahni Adamson, Trish Hansen of Urban Mind Studio and Senior Karuna Man Mickey Kumatpi O’Brien.
Sanctuary proposes a new way of knowledge creation, blending regenerative design, contemporary design processes and First Nations perspectives. It is driven by an urgent need for a system of thinking that can simultaneously resolve both the detail and the systems level impacts of our actions as designers.
Laboratories have been the locus for the scientific advances that have formed the basis of modern western thought and benefitted our society. However they have also created siloes and disconnection, favouring movement and action over discussion, engagement, and reflection on consequences.
The world views of First Nations people offer a way forward. In contrast to western thinking, First Nations peoples view the world at a systems level where all things are interrelated, not just an assembly of components. People are just one part of a greater whole, not the apex. Knowledge is developed and passed on through discussion, consultation, and deep consideration and understanding of Country.
Importantly, First Nations knowledge systems are highly adaptive to change, the type of change that is confronting us right now.
There is a developing body of thinking that brings together the best of both western and First Nations world views – in a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship.
Described as Intercultural Science, it understands that western knowledge “is only one form of knowledge system among others, and that knowledge is always embedded in cultural and historical settings”
 Rist and Dahdouh-Guebas, 2006