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A Hypothetical Darwin

My creative in residence at the NT Archives started with the intention of looking at plans envisioned for Darwin that never happened. I then used these past decisions – or lack thereof – to inspire a series of designs of my own, A Hypothetical Darwin.

By Katy Moir

I wasn’t interested in presenting a grand plan. I wanted to reflect on what had come before me, so that I (hopefully) didn’t become another cog in the NT planning wheel. I wasn’t interested in proposing a Darwin with hovercrafts and vertical cities – I wanted to focus on elevating what we already have, and love.

Intentions, like planning documents, are just that. There were one or two ideas that I just wish we had done, and quite a few I wish we hadn’t. Most importantly, what I’ve uncovered has shifted my focus and reminded me to continually check my lens.

The documents that depict our planning history clearly reflect our colonial approach back at us. When you pull out layers of a Darwin map, the land and the plan, the collision is incredibly obvious. It’s a visual reminder that we need to find ways to acknowledge country, not only at the start of an event but throughout our entire process and systems.

So, I came up with 20 ideas of varying scales and complexity, and members of the community have given me feedback through a series of crits*.

Some have questioned my definition of ‘hypothetical’. People were surprised at the realistic nature of some ideas because, for
example, giving back land in the Darwin municipality to Traditional Owners could happen. But in our current political climate – would it?

I encourage you to come along to my remaining crits at the NT Archives in Millner and join in this ongoing discussion.


*Crit – is short for ‘critique.’ At architectural school, a crit is an opportunity to present your work, and to receive feedback on it.

Photo: by Jett Street

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