Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS + R) and Woods Bagot released updated design renderings of the Center for Aboriginal Art and Cultures in Adelaide, Australia, based on feedback from the Centre’s Aboriginal Records Group . In February, architects first unveiled designs for the center, which is part of Lot Fourteen, an innovation district rising up on the former site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. For millennia before it was a hospital in a place called Adelaide, the land was the domain of the Kaurna people, a fact that is made public by the development website: “Lot Fourteen is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people. We recognize the cultural authority of the Kaurna people and respect their enduring spiritual relationship with their country and their responsibility to their country. We also express our gratitude and respect to all other First Nations peoples and communities in Australia.
“Through a deeper and broader engagement through the Indigenous Reference Group, our design speaks to and embraces the values and forms of Indigenous-shared references found in Indigenous art and cultures,” said Charles Renfro, Partner of DS + R, in a press release. “Fully connected to the landscape, the design integrates the lower ground level into the site and includes an exterior gallery cantilevered over the terraced landscape. “
The main design changes reinforce the project’s commitment to demonstrate a strong connection to the land. The columns have been reworked so that they “appear to grow from the ground,” the statement said. A porous indoor-outdoor space on the ground floor allows the landscape of the adjoining Adelaide Botanical Garden to penetrate deep into the building. A round amphitheater carved into the ground connects the interior to the site through large bay windows and an exterior gallery. Much of the site is home to a combination of plants, cobblestones, walls, terraces, seating, and water features. A network of pathways meander around the building and lead to intimate spaces across the grounds, offering tranquil retreats from the urban environment where visitors can immerse themselves in nature.
The building envelope has also been updated to reinforce its reference to Indigenous culture. A metallic skin, pleated at ground level, rises with the columns and curves to form the facade. In places, the metallic skin peels off to reveal windows that will offer views from the galleries on the upper floor.
“Driven by truth and transparency and staying true to the original design narrative, the design was driven by engagement with the Indigenous Reference Group,” Woods Bagot director Rosina Di Maria said in a statement. “The role of the design team has always been to listen and translate the aspirations and ambitions of the ARG into a design response. The architecture evokes a sense of welcome for all visitors – especially First Nations peoples – and a connection to culture offered by the human experience.
Plans for the center entered the planning approval process in South Australia yesterday, August 5, after being submitted to the State Commission Review Panel, bringing the project closer to the start of construction.