Kaunitz Yeung Architecture’s Marni Reti, a proud Palawa and Ngātiwai woman born and raised on Gadigal land, has been announced as the recipient of the 2021 NSW Architect’s Medallion. 

Awarded to a NSW graduate of an accredited Master of Architecture course who has achieved distinction both in a particular subject area at the final level and generally throughout the two years of the course, the medallion comes with an additional $5,000 prize. Reti was unanimously awarded the medallion by the selection panel. 

The budding architect says she believes the integration of Indigenous culture within contemporary projects is something that should become more prevalent in due course.

“There is no reason architecture cannot contemporise Indigenous culture with the permission of Elders,” she says.

“I have always felt very strongly against this misconceived notion that because we have trained for five years in a western institution that we know what belongs on Country better than an Uncle who has spent his entire life dedicated to its care or an Aunty who never got to go to university but has a wealth of knowledge about design and Country that extends far longer than universities have even been established here.

“I believe that communities will bring our cultural knowledge and practice to the design process and then the resulting architecture, and that this is truly a dialogue between cultural and architectural practice, each group offering expertise and experience in their fields. The outcome of that, I hope, is that we value that outcome and the dialogue that comes from it to create an incredible, meaningful, important architecture that is contextualised in the Country.”

Reti has held a specially-created position for an Indigenous architecture student at Kaunitz Yeung Architecture since October 2018. Displaying clear potential in leadership across the built environment, the architect has received the inaugural UTS Jumbunna Scholarship and UTS Droga Indigenous Architecture Scholarship.

Since joining Kaunitz Yeung Architecture, Reti has worked on a number of award winning projects delivering better healthcare facilities to Australian Indigenous communities including the Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS) Newman Clinic, as well as the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) Physical Rehabilitation Centre in Orange, NSW. 

The projects are characterised by extensive community consultation, with the sustainable integration of local materials. The local artwork from the community has been translated to feature as architectural elements, imbuing strong ideals of ownership and connection to local communities. 

More recently, Reti taught an interdisciplinary Masters Studio with Director of Kaunitz Yeung Architecture, David Kaunitz, in Wilcannia, New South Wales. 

“Marni Reti is an exceptional graduate of architecture and a highly valued member of our team,” says Kaunitz.

“Marni is a talented, creative thinker who is deeply committed to engagement with Indigenous communities, bringing a breadth of experience and insight that is rare in a person so young.

“Already operating within strongly defined ethical boundaries, Marni has a clear vision of her future purpose as an architect and the extra cultural dimension she has to offer as a proud Palawa and Ngātiwai woman.”