Bringing the desert to Perth through Indigenous collaboration: DLG SHAPE completes refurbishment for the Indigenous Desert Alliance

DLG SHAPE, in collaboration with Hassell, Bateup Consulting, Gambarra, GreenChair and Cablewise, have completed a refurbishment of Indigenous Desert Alliance’s (IDA’s) new headquarters, The Desert Hub.

IDA is an Indigenous-led, member-based organisation that plays a vital role in building resilience for desert ranger programs and ensuring that Indigenous rangers are enabled to collaboratively manage the Australian desert.

The Desert Hub is IDA’s new headquarters and the primary meeting point for desert rangers when they journey to the capital city of Perth, situated on Whadjuk Noongar Country. It also acts as homely space for IDA members and desert ranger teams to host events, conduct workshops and deliver training. The culturally safe space contains offices, meeting rooms and versatile areas for content creation, hosting families, clients, IDA members, and, most importantly, spaces for yarning.

The design process was a collaborative effort which took place through a series of yarning sessions with IDA stakeholders, Elders, and Indigenous community members from five different parts of the desert. Hassell and Gordon Bateup from Bateup Consulting were also instrumental in the co design. These discussions engaged IDA stakeholders to share their vison for the Hub’s purpose and design, and ensure the final space was reflective of the Australian desert and Indigenous ways of working.

DLG SHAPE and team members from SHAPE were also involved in the later yarning sessions as the project evolved.

Jodie Priestly, Business Development Manager at SHAPE in WA, who played a key role in the delivery of this project, said the yarning sessions were valuable in educating the team on Indigenous culture and allowing them to approach the work with greater sensitivity and awareness.

“Through these sessions, we had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations, share insights, and learn from the rich cultural heritage and perspectives of the Indigenous community. This exchange of knowledge has not only deepened our understanding but has also empowered us to approach our work with First Nations people with greater cultural sensitivity and awareness,” she said.

Samantha Murray, Indigenous Desert Alliance Deputy CEO, said Indigenous engagement is crucial in the design and delivery of Indigenous spaces.

“It’s important for businesses to focus on creating culturally safe spaces for Indigenous engagement in the right way. That means in a way that is culturally appropriate and respectful of Indigenous ways of working and worldview perspectives,” she said.

Prior to The Desert Hub, rangers gathered in corporate environments owned by government and other stakeholders. The Hub shifts from a more corporate feel to one that reflects the spirit of the Indigenous community, providing cultural safety and comfort. The selection of materials and colour palette emulates the feel of a desert, with red and ochre chosen as key colours.

Michael Manikas, General Manager of DLG SHAPE, said the journey through the entrance allows guests to feel like they are walking through a landscape where the rangers work, before they enter the more corporate collaboration areas.

“Rangers have proven to be the safekeepers of the land. For us to create a space where that work can continue is amazing for our organisation. We’ve captured the spirit of Country in terms of colours and the materials that have been chosen, to make people coming from Country into the office feel at home,” he said.

GreenChair, a furniture repurposing program which helps Australian businesses reduce their waste to landfill, provided the furniture, which was all reused and carefully selected to encapsulate a comfortable, home-like atmosphere.

“Rangers have proven to be the safekeepers of the land. For us to create a space where that work can continue is amazing for our organisation.”  – Michael Manikas, General Manager of DLG SHAPE

“We had five people from different parts of the desert involved in the design. It’s been a lot of yarning and imagining what it would be, so to now walk through the door and see it all come together is a proud moment. I hope that community members feel like it’s something they can walk in and recognise things like colours, images and designs that represent our beautiful desert country,” said Samantha.

“I’d like to thank those who helped us build this wonderful, cultural space for the community: all our build partners and the subcontractors and suppliers who generously donated their time, materials, and products.”

A huge thank you to our partners: Hassell, Bateup Consulting, Gambarra, Cablewise, GreenChair, Superintendent, BEST Consultants, Allied Business Relocations (Australia), Exeus Structural Design Consultants, CODE – Building Surveyers & Access Consultants,  Exeus, Di Trento Demolition, Trick Fabrication, Gambara Building Consultants, Carpentry WA,  Malco, Interface, RSM Painting (Supply Nations), Autex Acoustics, Acustico Lighting, Commercial Locksmiths, Everest Design, Applied Design Perth, Floor Finishes, Art of Concrete, Admiral Mechanical Services.

As we celebrate the opening of this important space, we pay tribute to a key leader behind its inception, Adam Paikos-Coe, whose design work was fundamental in bringing The Desert Hub to life.