Formerly known as Australian Technology Park, Mirvac is taking extraordinary strides to embed Aboriginality into the new and improved South Eveleigh precinct.
Straddling the suburbs of Eveleigh and Redfern, which is renowned for its cultural connection to Indigenous Australians, South Eveleigh has embedded reconciliation at the heart of the development.
Led by Mirvac, its consortium partners AMP Capital, Sunsuper and Centuria Property Funds are working with its anchor tenant, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on these initiatives.
Mirvac Development Manager, Lucy Pullin, points to one example as Yerrabingin, which seeks to disrupt conventional approaches to ending Aboriginal disadvantage and create intergenerational capital for future generations to thrive.
“At South Eveleigh, visionary start-up Yerrabingin will deliver unique spaces in the urban environment to nurture the link between Indigenous culture and native plants including an Indigenous rooftop farm, cultural landscape garden and precinct wide maintenance,” she explains.
“The farm brings to life Mirvac and Yerrabingin’s vision to celebrate South Eveleigh’s rich Aboriginal culture and heritage, through an engaging and educational experience.
“Workers, visitors and the local community will be encouraged to participate in the planned workshops to learn about Indigenous culture, native plants and tend to the farm,” says Lucy.
Over 30 native bush foods will be grown on site and available to purchase by visitors, as well as a range of workshops, events and site tours open to the public that focus on native permaculture, environmental sustainability, physical and mental health. It provides a fresh focus on ancient traditional Aboriginal practices that visitors and the local community can be a part of cultivating.
This innovative approach to placemaking has contributed to Mirvac’s commercial buildings at South Eveleigh targeting a 6 Star Green Star rating, demonstrating global leadership in sustainability.
According to Lucy, Mirvac is working closely with Indigenous community groups to ensure their Indigenous legacy is acknowledged and celebrated on site.
“Mirvac has developed a relationship with Tribal Warriors, a non-profit community organisation established and run by Aboriginal people,” says Lucy.
“Mirvac engaged Tribal Warriors to perform a traditional smoking ceremony prior to construction starting at South Eveleigh.”
As well as giving a nod to Aboriginal heritage, the Tribal Warriors scheme also aims to engage with Indigenous and troubled youth to provide a safe, positive space to thrive in the community.
“Members of Mirvac’s construction team participate in Tribal Warriors’ ‘Clean Slate Without Prejudice’ boxing program three mornings a week, creating a healthy routine for local youth and ex-offenders,” Lucy explains.
South Eveleigh is a stone’s throw from Redfern, where Aboriginality is at the core of community. With murals of the flag emblazoned on the side of buildings, and where Indigenous groups are headquartered, Mirvac has been engaging with community forums since 2015 to set a new standard for engagement.
This includes commissioning art from local Indigenous artist, Jonathan Jones.
“Mirvac has a comprehensive public art strategy for the precinct with local artists creating pieces inspired by the history of Eveleigh,” says Lucy, referring to Mirvac’s art strategy for the precinct.
“We engaged Indigenous artist, Jonathan Jones, to create two artworks for the precinct which celebrate the Indigenous legacy of the site. Jonathan worked closely with Indigenous elder, Uncle Chicka, to develop the artwork Welcome to Country.
“Uncle Chicka worked at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops for many years and the artwork conveys his personal history of the site through letters stencilled into a series of banners that form a canopy above the entry garden.”
A little of the old, fused with a new perspective on inclusive placemaking will position South Eveleigh as a bustling hub to work, play and learn in Sydney.
As more and more organisations opt to introduce Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) into their business strategy – Mirvac included – the company is demonstrating how this can go beyond vision and into practice.
Lucy believes that South Eveleigh embodies the future of sustainable communities.
“To better support the integration and celebration of Indigenous history in the built environment we need to adopt a design approach which employs genuine collaboration with stakeholders rather then retrospective consultation as a tick box exercise,” she says.
Consulting with Indigenous community groups in the planning stages of a project will ensure a better outcome that authentically celebrates Indigenous history.”