NATIONAL CENTRE FOR CULTURAL COMPETENCE (2013)

Graduation Studio

“Decolonisation can only be complete when it is understood as a complex process that involves both the coloniser and the colonised” (McGaw, Pieris and Potter 2011).

In recent times, there has been considerable movement to bridge the gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the Australian population, which focuses on regaining the recognition of the traditional owners of the land. The movement, largely brought on through politics,
social pressures and art, is also beginning to take shape in the form of architecture. Indigenous cultural centres are becoming the forefront of the movement, in search for an architectural identity that nurtures the Indigenous population whilst symbolising the complexity of the evolving relationship between Indigenous and nonindigenous Australians. As the social environment changes for each project or centre, so does the architecture.

For that, no singular architectural identity exists. The design for such cultural centres is very much a product of many layers of different scales, ranging from the national and regional perspective to the local and finer grain, all of which are unique to each situation and co-dependent.
The new National Centre for Cultural Competence for the University of Sydney is in one way narrowly and specifically for the university, and at the same time must recognise the wider context as it asserts itself in the national landscape. As a product of the Wingara Mura Strategy for the university, the NCCC project sets up a challenging backdrop that addresses a plethora of issues at different levels. At the national level, the NCCC
will become the image of a university that promotes openness and social inclusion, but also to be a part of the growing and strengthening network of cultural centres and the like throughout Australia. At the regional and community level, the NCCC will support the outreach programs that open doors to areas with low access or exposure to tertiary education. At the university level, the NCCC will welcome resident scholars to lead research
towards cultural competence. And finally at the onground social level, the NCCC will provide a safe-haven for indigenous students, as well as open gateways for the immediate community to reflect the changing values of the university.