Willowra’s Community Learning Centre wins Architecture Gong

Posted: Mon, July 14, 2014

The new Wirliyajarrayi Learning Centre in Willowra has won a commendation for Indigenous Community Architecture in the 2014 NT Architecture Awards.

The award jury recognised that the centre, which opened last year, was an important step forward for the small community, 330 kilometers north west of Alice Springs.

"This centre, partly funded by the community, represents a major move to a more harmonious future between the family groups who live here", the jury commented.

CLC Director David Ross congratulated the architects, Susan Dugdale Associates from Alice Springs, on the commendation.

"This honour acknowledges the extensive consultations they undertook with the community in determining the centre’s design", he said. "They worked closely with the CLC’s community development team over a number of years and really took on board what local people were telling them."

The jurors were impressed with the architects’ response to the challenging infill site and also appreciated the finishing touches by community members.

"We entered the centre through a walled courtyard and were greeted by 16 bold rectangular paintings done by Willowra’s different family groups. The paintings made a strong statement about a common future."

The panels were an art project of Yuendumu’s Warlukurlangu Art Centre and funded by the CLC administered Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT).

The centre includes an early childhood facility, a large meeting space, training rooms for informal and formal training, a library, computers and internet access, and an outdoor movie screen. There is also staff accommodation.

CLC Director David Ross said that facilities like this make an enormous and tangible difference to people’s lives. "We take services like internet access, libraries, and early childhood services for granted, but those services are virtually non-existent in remote communities".

Four local men employed by Tangentyere Constructions worked on the construction of the centre, which was built with $600,000 of Warlpiri people’s royalty monies through WETT. $2.6 million came from the Aboriginals Benefit Account.

It is operated by Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) through a regional partnership with WETT and the CLC.