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Concept design released for Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre

Posted February 2, 2021

New concept designs have today been released for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre (AACC), to be built at Lot Fourteen.

The AACC Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) has worked with the design team to ensure the centre will be both contemporary and representative of more than 65,000 years of First Nations cultures across Australia with the deep Aboriginal connection to Country being woven into the iconic reference design.

The group will continue to work on the design as detailed plans are developed by appointed architects Woods Bagot over the next 12 months.

Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said the AACC would boost the cultural economy of South Australia and drive year-round tourism.

“The centre will showcase the past, present and future of Aboriginal cultures while supporting contemporary visual, performing and multimedia arts and events,” Minister Fletcher said.

Premier Steven Marshall said the striking reference design, with overlapping layers surrounding 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.

“We will share with the world, with great pride, the incredible stories and unique cultures, of Australia’s first peoples, as never told or shown before.

“The reference design has been developed in close consultation with the ARG to reflect Aboriginal values and aspirations.”

Construction of the AACC is scheduled to start later in 2021 and the centre is due to open in early 2025.

Members of the AACC Aboriginal Reference Group. At front, from left are: Jessica Davies-Huynh, Sandy Miller, and Kirstie Parker. At rear are Karl Telfer and David Rathman. Not present are: Jack Buckskin, Cara Kirkwood and Craig Ritchie.

The Aboriginal Reference Group is led by AACC Ambassador David Rathman. Other members are:

  • Jack Buckskin and Jessica Davies-Huynh, representing Kaurna people through Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation
  • Karl Telfer, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute
  • Sandy Miller, SA Museum Aboriginal Advisory Committee
  • Cara Kirkwood, Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Craig Ritchie, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • Kirstie Parker, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Department of the Premier and Cabinet

The ARG is supported by Lot Fourteen State Project Lead Diane Dixon.

Mr Rathman said the ARG was working to ensure that the centre reflects the diversity of First Nations peoples across Australia, particularly the Kaurna Nation, as it will be located on a significant Kaurna site.

“It has to be a centre they will all be proud of as a place to present their cultures to the world,” Mr Rathman said.

“The building has to reach out to you, to make you want to come inside and to come back.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Aboriginal people to have ownership and leadership of what will become one of the state’s leading tourism attractions and to be active participants in that venture through business and career opportunities. There is a lot of excitement for this centre.”

Woods Bagot Principal Rosina Di Maria said the AACC reference design was inspired by the temporary shelters created by Aboriginal peoples and known by names such as “wurlie” and “humpy” and would invoke a sense of welcome and safety.

“It also features fresh and saltwater reflection pools, an outdoor gallery and amphitheatre, views of nature and access to daylight,” Ms Di Maria said.

“AACC will welcome visitors through a radically open ground floor, into a safe space with storytelling at its heart.

“The reference design features lower-level galleries and terraced landscapes carved from the earth, providing exhibition and performance spaces and a gathering area for Welcome to Country ceremonies.

“The welcoming ground floor extends in all directions and reorients the building to Kaingka Wirra (Adelaide Botanic Garden). Tipped upper galleries reveal openings into the centre and outward views to depict truth-telling and transparency.”

The AACC is supported with total funding of $200 million. The Australian Government has committed $85 million through the Adelaide City Deal, while the state government has committed $115 million to the centre, including an extra $50 million funding in the latest State Budget.

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