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Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre hits planning milestone

Posted August 5, 2021

Plans for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre (AACC) have now entered the state’s planning approval process, after being submitted to the State Commission Assessment Panel.

The $200 million Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre is planned to start construction later this year, with its opening scheduled for early 2025.

Premier Steven Marshall is confident about the rich opportunities that the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre will provide for all South Australians.

“Putting Aboriginal art and cultures at the forefront, the establishment of the AACC will provide a symbol of reconciliation, celebrating our unique cultural offerings while creating an international tourism destination,” Premier Marshall said.

“This new landmark for our state will create important opportunities for Aboriginal employment and development, while driving economic and social outcomes for the people of South Australia.

Aerial view featuring an open air amphitheatre to host Welcome to Country and other events, nestled amongst the immersive gardens. Image credit: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot

Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the new Centre would be an important cultural landmark and tourist attraction.

“The new Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre will be a key cultural attraction for the city and play an important role in educating Australians about the rich and diverse First Nations Cultures from across our country,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The Centre will create an immersive experience combining traditional storytelling with modern technology to deliver a major cultural visitor attraction enticing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.”

From project inception, representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has been at the core of the project. An Aboriginal Reference Group has provided strategic direction and leadership to ensure the establishment of the Centre is in line with cultural expectations and represents Aboriginal cultural history and truth-telling.

The stunning plans for the new Centre include generous landscaping, providing seamless integration with Adelaide Botanic Garden and the key cultural and educational institutions of North Terrace and Lot Fourteen.

North Terrace arrival with water feature and cantilevered galleries evoking a sense of welcome. Image credit: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot

Designed in collaboration by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot, the AACC is a contemporary building presenting an exciting new image and experience, says DS+R partner Charles Renfro.

“Through deeper and wider engagement via the Aboriginal Reference Group, our design speaks to and embraces Aboriginal shared values.

“Wholly connected to the landscape, the design embeds the lower ground level into the site and includes a first of its kind outdoor gallery cantilevered over the terraced landscape.”

Woods Bagot principal Rosina Di Maria said the design team is aware of its profound responsibility.

“This project is an important moment in setting the future for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. The centre will welcome visitors through a radically open ground floor, into a safe space with storytelling at its heart.”

The AACC, situated on Kaurna land, will include spaces for permanent and visiting exhibitions, cultural performances, meetings and ceremonies, gatherings and events, and a café and retail space.

The abundant public space offers a series of interconnected pathways winding around the building and flowing into smaller, quiet spaces throughout the site to enable visitors to take time out from the city environment and immerse themselves into the landscape.

David Rathman, ambassador for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre and leader of the Aboriginal Reference Group says it is vital for Aboriginal people to tell their stories.

“The Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre is a means by which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can showcase to the world 60,000 years of history, understanding of Country and contemporary expression of our culture, through performing, visual arts and static displays.

“We hope we’ll be able to present to the rest of the world the true Australia, through our story of Country.

“The Aboriginal Reference Group has been working consistently with the project team for over twelve months to arrive at where we are now.”

Aerial view with AACC wholly connected to the landscape. Image credit: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot

The AACC incorporates environmentally sustainable design and will be a carbon neutral-ready building offering climate resilience and adaptation.

The AACC is an Adelaide City Deal project. The Australian Government will provide up to $85 million towards the construction of the centre, with the Government of South Australia providing $115 million in additional funding.

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