Following on from her Master thesis, Bush Owner Builder, which received international acclaim, including a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Dissertation Medal, Hannah Robertson has been working in consultation with indigenous communities across Australia.
Hannah spent some time volunteering in Cape York, Queensland and learning about indigenous culture. This experience led her to undertake her Master of Architecture thesis on indigenous housing and ownership and she chose Hope Vale in Queensland as her intervention site.
“Bush Owner Builder tackled some of the issues of indigenous housing by providing ownership; ownership of the design, building process and the eventual built outcome,” explains Hannah.
Ownership is core to Hannah’s work and she is currently working with Lirrwi Tourism, a social enterprise in North East Arnhem Land, developing a masterplan for homeland sites to compliment the strategic vision of the traditional owners, the Yolngu people.
“I am so incredibly fortunate to be part of this project,” says Hannah. “The region is so rich with culture; it is home of Yothu Yindi, the Yidaki (didgeridoo), amazing artworks on Iarrakitj poles, and the historically significant bark petitions.”
Hannah is passionate about the potential of architecture to improve quality of life and will continue to work in consultation with communities that traditionally could not afford an architect.
“I want to work with communities most in need because that’s where I feel I can really make a difference,” says Hannah.
During a recent visit to Hope Vale, Hannah was presented with a folder of pictures documenting the project from start to finish. It was created by the house owner she worked with and Hannah was touched by the pride he felt in what he and his family had achieved.
Simultaneous to her work with Lirrwi Tourism, Hannah is undertaking a PhD and tutoring at the University of Melbourne.
“Working across academia, teaching and practice enhances my ability to understand and engage more creatively with my work,” says Hannah.