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Afri-Aus-Care Action Research Laboratory

Version 2 2024-06-03, 06:27
Version 1 2024-06-03, 05:16
posted on 2024-06-03, 06:27 authored by DAVID O'BRIENDAVID O'BRIEN, Afri-Aus Care, GEORGE STAVRIAS, JAMES NEILJAMES NEIL
This 'action research' project included a co-design and co-build collaboration with the African refugee community at Springvale to develop an outdoor kitchen/relaxation space by Afri-Aus Care's kitchen garden. The collaboration began in 2019 with Bower invited to work with the Afri-Aus Care community and Stavrias Architecture to design a new community centre to better serve the needs of the members of the African refugee community. Afri-Aus Care's mission includes addressing food security, physical and mental health alongside their advocacy for marginalized youth. Afri-Aus Care is working towards developing a $10M community centre planned for completion in 2027. As part of the consultation process Bower students were involved in an action research project to test design opportunities and investigate possibilities to empower the community to envision the most culturally appropriate ways to express community identity and aspirations through architectural form and function. This 'laboratory' project required the team to work on-site for six days to design and build a pavilion with a variety of roof finishes, install patterned paving, build a decorative fence, and paint a mural. The designs were not finalised before construction began to incorporate concepts that emerged during the on-site consultations taking place between Bower students and the community. The community members direct engagement allowed the paving, roof and mural to be designed in close partnership and at 1:1 scale.


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  • Yes

NTRO Output Type

  • Original Creative Work

NTRO Output Category

  • Original Creative Work : Design / architectural Work


South Springvale, Australia


Afri-Aus Care

NTRO Publisher

Bower Studio, Melbourne School of Design


Designing and building

Research Statement

Refugee groups are typically marginalised in the design of places to congregate for cultural and health activities. This 'action research' project investigates best practice models to engage African refugees in design proposals for a new community centre for the support agency African-Aus Care. This research has developed a method to test possible opportunities for the design of culturally appropriate representations of African culture . A 'laboratory' of design options (materials, patterns, textures and spatial inter-relationships) has been formed as a system to inform design opportunities and provoke discussions around culturally appropriate design aspirations. Architects develop culturally appropriate and robust design ideas when collaborating with an informed and empowered client. Participants from a CALD community can struggle to share their ambitions when asked to help shape their constructed environment. This research project frames an innovative approach to empowering community and continues to shape the ongoing design and research process. The voices and aspirations of a variety of community members, and from a variety of cultures, can be heard and validated in this 'laboratory' project to ensure that the design process and outcomes are leading the way in demonstrating best practice consultation techniques.

Size or Duration of Work



David O'Brien, University of Melbourne

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    Non-Traditional Research Outputs (NTROs)



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