Service Learning

Slow Recovery

Photo by Arran Roxburgh

Studio Background

A cyclical phenomenon rather than a linear process, disaster recovery stands to be a subjective undertaking and lived experience that is highly variable for local people and the decentralised communities they align themselves with, in a place and time. This research-led studio brings to life three discrete projects that are part of the ensuing recovery of three places affected by the 2019-2020 bushfire complex that occurred in East Gippsland.


Together with Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Genoa Town Committee (GTC) and Mallacoota and District Recovery Association (MADRA), the studio ‘co-created’’ an outdoor cultural performance space and two townscape reimaginations with each respective grassroots organisation.



Country / Location

Kulin Nations / Caulfield VIC

Gunaikurnai / East Gippsland VIC


Monash University


This studio is a “sequel” to the Rethinking Regional Recovery (RRR) studio and intentionally transitions from the theoretical and speculative nature of RRR’s outcomes, into a highly practice embedded mode. The question of how we might deepen our understanding of what we design and build through interdisciplinarity and local cultural knowledge continues to underpin this thinking. However this time we had a privileged opportunity to activate many of the learnings from RRR in real space and time with diverse bushfire affected people with differing perspectives on what recovery means to them.


While the focus of this studio was around the ‘co-creation’ and design of projects that are not technically “re-construction” works—buildings or spaces that were destroyed by the fires—the social contexts of the places and relevant sites are ones of deep psychosocial, topophilic, economic and environmental rehabilitation, hence are perceived within the scope of this studio and by the partners, as long term recovery projects.

Photos by Spencer Mu

Photos by Rachel De Longh

Project: Connect Conserve Cultivate by Chelsea Telford & Matt Holmes

Project: Regional Weaving by Lucy Hammon & Robert Lees



Research participant

Thank you for seeing the value in bridging the gap between the world of academia learning principles and practices with real people and real life, to me it seems like teaching at it’s best…I have regularly thought of you and the project and I wish to thank you and your team for all that you have done and for genuinely showing interest, listening and respecting us in our small communities


Student Reflection

The studio provided the opportunity to realise how important it is to interact with people, places and histories which differ from your own. The experience of co-creation showed how there isn’t a limit to how much one can grow as an architect if you actively listen and respond to these physical and social landscapes.” – Canny Bate

Project: Regional Weaving by Lucy Hammon & Robert Lees