Interviewer: Marcela Torres Molano
Language of interview: English
Country of practice: Australia
Profession: Architect and architecture professor
Kevin Bradley is an Australian architect and professor. His work focuses on participatory design for restorative practices and processes of co-design in carceral settings. According to Bradley, architecture schools in Australia currently have two major challenges to overcome: first, the lack of diversity in the student community, and second, the absence of studio classes taking place outside the faculties and in direct relation with local contexts. For Bradley, architecture schools need to prioritise human-centred design over aesthetics-based studios, to achieve social progressive approaches that better address questions of justice.
During our interview, Bradley explains the main challenges of designing in prison settings. In terms of ethical issues, he highlights the importance of acknowledging the privilege and difference of background between the designers and participants; the responsibility to address the designer’s bias; the importance of recognising all knowledge as relevant, as well as ensuring the design is culturally safe for all participants. He then explains the importance of setting a safe space, which includes taking into account methodologies, processes, and choosing the right physical site. In terms of methodologies, Bradley describes his doctoral approach that included processes of co-design with custodial communities. He talks about equitable facilitation of the design process, by applying a constructionist approach and a phenomenological perspective to find collective ways to design.
Further, he talks about several case studies of co-design for restorative purposes. First, an old university studio that led to the design of Indigenous housing, in which inmates were involved in the actual construction of the homes. Second, a community centre, also designed in the studio, and built by the inmates.Third, his current studio work on restorative justice, in which students are in charge of collecting data based on the experiences of the participating inmates.