Synapse SAIF: Shaneen and Jenny Lynch working on the master plan with Mr Alex Woodcock to the left.

How society, culture and design fit together

Our cultural and social experiences and beliefs can inform many things that we do. We are often not conscious of these influences and how they affect our behaviour. For example, where and how you sleep (in a dwelling) with your family members is influenced by your social and cultural beliefs. How you prepare and consume food is influenced by your social and cultural beliefs.

Shaneen is one of a handful of Australian architects who have made a life-time pursuit of understanding the relationship between social and cultural beliefs and architecture with Indigenous people. She has worked extensively on Indigenous housing, health and community projects in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Canada.

Shaneen has worked on many projects with an aim to understand the cultural imperatives of the people she is working with and how these can be translated into design outcomes that support the historical and social needs. This can include kinship rules, such as poison cousins, beliefs in spirits and sorcery (and their effect on security and privacy), or understanding ancestral stories and law, and how all this might be translated into made places and built form.

At POD we firmly believe that collaborative engagement, participation, and education leads to empowerment. We are advocates of an inclusive design approach. This approach forms a solid basis for achieving excellence in design and realising positive community outcomes. We relish problem solving and collaboration on projects to achieve holistic endorsement and ownership.