Milana Levic, our Architectural Graduate, took to the stage last month as a roundtable speaker at the Melbourne Design Week event titled ‘Migration. Women. Architecture.’

This event was part of a continuing series of discussions stemming from the recent Architect Victoria magazine issue of the same name, featuring a sketch by Milana and an article she contributed, titled ‘my Levici + architect Ljiljana Bakic.’ In this piece, Milana shared her story as a second-generation migrant and her architectural inspirations that intertwine with her Serbian heritage.


The roundtable discussion at the Melbourne Design Week event reflected on personal experiences related to migration, women and architecture, emphasising the importance of cultural diversity in the field of design. It advocated for demystifying cultural differences and shed light on the experiences, opportunities, barriers and inequities faced by women in architecture, particularly those with diverse cultural backgrounds.

As practitioners, researchers and educators in the field consider the urgency of creating a more inclusive and socially aware architectural landscape, this conversation provided a platform for sharing the personal experiences of migrants while highlighting the creative potential of cultural exchange.

Milana shared some insights with us from the diverse discussion, including her first-hand experiences and unique perspective on the topic.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a contributor to the Migration. Women. Architecture. discussion?

ML: As a contributor of M.W.A., it has been liberating for me to be able to connect with women in the industry that have overcome cultural barriers they’ve faced as migrants. I feel very empowered being able to not only embrace my cultural identity from an architectural lens, but also share my words with people who have an interest in learning.

Q: What were some key topics that came up during the roundtable discussion, and what insights were shared?

ML: Some key topics of discussion were the spatial experience of Melbourne, the difficulties immigrant women have encountered, especially within the architecture field, and the influence transcultural memories have played on architecture and design. These insights were unique across the panel as we were all from different cultural backgrounds, therefore no single experience was the same.


Q: What did you personally share as a roundtable speaker during the discussion?

ML: As a second-generation migrant, I was respectful of allowing the other women to share their first-hand experiences before contributing my own. In particular, I shared my experiences as a child with my Serbian identity being such a significant part of my home culture and how those experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today.

Q: Can you share an anecdote or experience that resonated with you most during the event?

ML: Throughout the discussion, I noticed that each woman has had to sacrifice some part of themselves throughout their experience, whether that be as significant as the sacrifices made in the migration process or as personal sacrifices made in order to overcome cultural barriers. Each woman has been faced with the discomfort of growth which has shaped them into the influential women they are today.

Q: In what ways do you believe cultural diversity enhances creativity and innovation in architecture?

ML: I believe good architecture is experienced in a series of layers and the more complex these layers, the richer the architecture as a result. Cultural diversity enhances the design as individuals with different lived experiences tap into their spatial and aesthetic memory that ultimately transcends into built form. This allows design to be considered from a more complex lens, as different cultures perceive space, form, colour, smell and texture in very unique ways.

We celebrate Milana’s contributions to Migration. Women. Architecture. and are inspired by her dedication to encouraging a more inclusive and diverse architectural community.

Image Credits and Acknowledgements

Source: Museums Victoria / Photographer: Rodney Start
Copyright Museums Victoria 2024

VIA Team

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