UTS Architecture students Joel Sherwood Spring, Marni Reti and Mitchell Moxey have been announced the inaugural recipients of the Droga Indigenous Architecture Scholarship.

Launched last year, the Indigenous Architecture Scholarship program has been made possible by a $1 million donation from cultural philanthropists the Droga Family – the largest single donation to the education of Indigenous architects in Australia. 

Scholarship winners Joel Sherwood Spring and Marni Reti are both in their first year of the Master of Architecture degree at UTS, while Mitchell Moxey is undertaking his first year in the Bachelor of Design in Architecture. 

Sherwood Spring, a Wiradjuri man raised in Redfern and Alice Springs says that the scholarship will support him to balance the commitments of full-time study with responsibilities to family and community.

“It's an important gesture to see that there is an emphasis on the participation and further inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in architecture,” says Sherwood-Spring.

“Architecture is not just about buildings, it's about the politics of bodies in space. We need to have more diverse representation.”

The program was created specifically to address the shortage of Indigenous architects in Australia, where just 28 were registered nationally at the last Census. With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples representing 3 percent of the population, the number should be closer to 500. However, Indigenous architects make up just 0.2 percent of the roughly 12,000 architects in Australia today.

The Droga Indigenous Architecture Scholarships are worth up to $50,000 over five years at the UTS School of Architecture, and both commencing undergraduate and master’s students are eligible. 

As part of the program, recipients will also be mentored by industry, through a summer internship program supported by the Government Architect NSW and the NSW Architects Registration Board.