Outback Art Centres

AnanguKu Arts
Architectural, Community Consultation, Expert Client

Brief: New art centres and associated staff housing across 7 Aboriginal communities in the remote Central Desert region of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) in South Australia, including upgrades to existing facilities.

Challenges: The location of each community is extremely remote with long winding sandy tracks separating each one. The buildings need to withstand extreme heat in summer and below freezing temperatures in winter. Dust and highly corrosive bore water is also harsh on buildings. Art centre buildings in these remote communities provide essential services for marginalised people, often elders with mobility issues, that extend beyond a place to paint. They are heavily used buildings that the provide the community with a place to gather, pass on traditional knowledge between generations, income generation opportunities, food services, and much more. The heavy year-round use requires the architecture to be robust and hardwearing as well as sympathetic to the rugged natural landscape. Furthermore community engagement in the design process needs to be universally accessible in a context where English is often a second or third language and literacy is limited.

Solutions: A graphic consultation tool was developed at concept design stage to engage all community members equally in the identification of current ways of painting, issues and opportunities for the new or renovated art centres. As the design progressed, physical models of the proposed schemes were brought back for artists and art centre management to interrogate and provide feedback on the design. This led to meaningful community participation in the design process, resulted in buildings that responded intimately to artist’s needs as well as climactic and cultural contexts. Courtyards and external painting areas are integrated with indoor painting studios to provide painting spaces that function across the seasons and connect artists with their Traditional Country.

Highlights: Working closely with elders of each community to design robust art centres that facilitate strong connection to a powerful and humbling landscape.

What the client loved

Adriano is great at managing complex projects with a number of different stakeholders. He actively listens and responds promptly in a professional way. He has a fine eye for good design and concerns himself with sustainable low cost sensible architecture. I recommend his work highly.

Liz, General Manager