The Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter 2020 Reconciliation Prize has been awarded to Sydney practice Kaunitz Yeung Architecture for their work in remote Aboriginal communities. The Reconciliation Prize is the latest honour in Kaunitz Yeung’s impressive list of award recognitions this year.

One of six NSW Architecture Prizes that honour recipients for their contributions in the fields of architecture and the built environment across a variety of areas, the Reconciliation Prize recognises an individual, organisation or collaboration that responds to traditional custodianship and the cultural practices, knowledge, history and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and encourages the training and employment of First Nation people.

“Kaunitz Yeung is a small practice with a growing body of projects across vastly different Indigenous communities from red earth deserts to tropical coastal sea islands. In remote to extremely remote locations, limited budgets can often result in architecture lacking imagination, invention and comprehensive consultation. This is not the case with this practice, which has developed a remote building type and dialogue inviting Indigenous artists to create culturally expressive designs,” Jury chair and NSW Chapter president Kathlyn Loseby said.

A multi-award-winning practice with international recognition, Kaunitz Yeung – founded by the husband and wife team of David Kaunitz and Ka Wai Yeung – is well known for their grassroots work in Aboriginal communities. The firm collaborates with communities, stakeholders and end users to produce internationally recognised architecture within modest budgets that places people at the centre of buildings.

Kaunitz Yeung has demonstrated through its buildings and practice, how architects and architecture can play a role in reconciliation, observes Kaunitz.

“The foundation of our design process is mutual respect. It is underpinned by iterative consultation, which engages the communities, the clinicians and the clients in an ongoing dialogue through the design and delivery of the buildings.

“Having spent over a decade working in over 30 Aboriginal communities, we have come to demonstrate that culturally appropriate, co-designed and co-constructed projects need not require additional funding.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised with the 2020 Reconciliation Prize. The work we do has set new benchmarks for working in and with Aboriginal communities and demonstrates what is possible when true collaboration takes place. We have learnt so much over the years from working with Aboriginal communities and our clients and without their belief, wisdom and generosity, this outcome would not have been possible.”