The deep Aboriginal connection to Country, place and kin is the foundation of the reference design for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre (AACC) in Adelaide, Australia, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot.
The DS+R and Woods Bagot design collaboration on the AACC began on the international design competition winning entry for Adelaide Contemporary in 2018.
On releasing the concept, the South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the striking reference design, with overlapping layers encircling a central gathering space, embodied the vision of the AACC as a gateway to the oldest living cultures in the world by incorporating the elements of earth, land and sky.
“The AACC will offer extraordinary immersive experiences, combining traditional storytelling with modern technology, celebrating 65,000 years of Aboriginal cultures and creating a global tourism attraction,” he said.
To be built on Kaurna land as part of the Lot Fourteen global innovation precinct, the AACC is a project of national and international significance.
The concept originates from the Aboriginal conception of the elements that link us to place: earth, land and sky – and which were the backbone of the design partnership’s winning proposal for the project’s earlier incarnation, Adelaide Contemporary.
DS+R partner Charles Renfro described the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre as a new paradigm in cultural space design.
“We’re thrilled to be part of this ground-breaking vision to create a place of pride that authentically honours the oldest living cultures on the planet. This first-of-its-kind project has taken on a new life with our continued collaboration with the Aboriginal community and other stakeholder groups, as well as our Australian design partner Woods Bagot.
“The AACC will welcome visitors through a radically open ground floor, into a safe space with storytelling at its heart. It will be a building of the 21st century, while remaining agile enough to allow future generations to evolve their own storytelling,” Mr. Renfro said.
Working directly with the AACC Ambassador David Rathman AM, the design team of DS+R and Woods Bagot engaged in deep conversations with members of the AACC Aboriginal Reference Group to discover the design vision.
Woods Bagot principal Rosina Di Maria described the consultation process as a humbling and emotional experience.
“The design team’s role was to listen, and translate the aspirations and ambitions of the ARG into a design response. The architecture evokes a sense of welcome to all visitors – particularly First Nations peoples – and a connection to culture offered through the human experience,” Ms Di Maria said.
“The Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre will be a place for all Australians to remember ourselves, to learn the truth telling of our past, and to re-imagine ourselves together to create new memories as a connected community. It will be a platform for developing Australian culture – informed by the past, shaped by the now, for our future,” Ms Di Maria said.
A building that reveals its workings overarchingly embodies truth-telling and transparency – a cultural vessel flexing to curation, use and time.
Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot
Images: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot