Creating connection to Country and Indigenous cultures on campus

A visionary long-term project will embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design values on University of Queensland campuses, reshaping them over time to better recognise and celebrate Indigenous connections.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Framework is the culmination of months of consultation and reflection with Indigenous peoples which involved a process of deep listening, reflection, and discussion.

UQ Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, said the framework was a tremendous achievement, and an important step in UQ’s reconciliation journey.

“The University of Queensland is proud to be part of what is a new and emerging space for the higher education sector, that is re-shaping its learning, teaching, research and engagement environments,” Professor Fredericks said.

“UQ is among only a handful of Australian universities engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Principles for its physical and built environments.

“Our Design Principles Framework aims to ensure safe and welcoming spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, along with offering all people a greater connection to what it means to visit, study or work within a great Australian university.

“This is important legacy work which adds to UQ’s master plan and contributes to shaping the way our campuses and premises will look and feel for generations to come.”

The design principles are included in the Framework to guide the work of architects, designers and builders in all future development, including buildings, green spaces and infrastructure.

Carroll Go-Sam, Dyirbal gumbilbara bama, and Dr Kelly Greenop, both from UQ’s School of Architecture, were instrumental to the project’s success, building on a long record of engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Since the 1970s, the school’s staff and students have collaborated on Indigenous projects, examining design, housing, homelessness, health facilities and other developments.

The principles extend that work, and when applied to support teaching, allow generations of students to apply them to inform future designs.


UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the framework would be a catalyst for change, and not just at UQ.

“This framework will guide architects, designers, project managers and contractors involved in delivering projects at the University,” Professor Terry said.

“Embedding Indigenous design principles across our various sites and campuses gives all UQ staff, students and community the chance to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.”

“It paves the way for incorporation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values and knowledge into the built and landscape environments, for sustainable development, allowing us to acknowledge that the land, water, buildings and infrastructure are all connected.

“But it will also inspire a new generation of architecture students how to engage with Indigenous communities, creating an important legacy for the University going forward.”

Details about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Framework can be found here.