Design and Nature

Considerations from the Indigenous People’s Action Group

The Indigenous Peoples Action Group (IPAG) has considered Design and Nature questions within the construct of our Values and Goals. A key to understanding the values which would be inherent in any consideration would be that understanding that the Indigenous way of knowing is based on relational connections rather than learned process. In this way the inclusion of such concepts of Imagination, Exploration, Adventure Challenge and especially Sensory and Fantasy take on a different meaning. Connection to Culture and Land is critical when consideration is given to ensuring that designs are responsive and culturally sensitive. Consideration of the rights of children to know and experience their history and connection is an innate obligation of all who take on the responsibility to discuss needs of Indigenous children. IPAG would support any design which celebrates culture and connects through cognitive, emotional and spiritual domains.

IPAG would consider the following issues and questions:

  • Land, earth, sky, water are significant within Indigenous cultures throughout the world, how can these be incorporated in playgrounds in a way which celebrates Indigenous culture?
  • Family is a significant factor in Indigenous culture. How can playgrounds be designed to acknowledge and develop this concept and celebrate this aspect?
  • Learning, living and life are all interconnected within the Indigenous communities; there is little distinction between learning and play. How can this be included when designing playgrounds of the future?
  • Culture, curriculum and play are all interwoven in many communities across the globe. How would this impact on a design?

Here are a few specific suggestions:

  • Include elders and community leaders in the design process
  • Utilize plants and materials important to native culture
  • Consider the incorporation of traditional structures and/or spaces in indoor and outdoor environments

An additional concern is that sometimes designers superficially add ‘indigenous’ elements to the design which don’t truly incorporate culture. The design needs to incorporate aspects that are real and meaningful.