Today we went out to the opening of the Learning Centre that we designed and project managed in Willowra, a Walpiri community approximately 400km NW of Alice Springs.
The new centre has a large meeting room, library, cultural item storage, staff facilities and a 15 place creche, as well as two staff houses. The meeting room, which doubles as the community computer cafe, can be separated into two classroom sized rooms for smaller uses and for the accommodation of cultural avoidance skin relationships, and opens through large shutter doors to the veranda and courtyard space for larger meetings and events. The building is situated on site for the best available solar orientation as well as to shelter the courtyard from the strong winds experienced in Willowra. The courtyard also acts as an alternate entry to the building connecting the public space to the next door shop and allowing local people using the building to navigate the requirements of their skin relationships.
It was a great day, the community have really taken ownership of the project and the courtyard in the centre of the building looks like becoming the community “lounge room” and hub that we had hoped for.
Apart from the building one of the projects successes has been the local employment component of the project. The contractors Tangentyere Constructions went out of their way to make it possible and inviting for four local men to work a total of 1400 hours of causal labour over the duration of the project, and the most consistent works offered permanent work at the completion of the project.
The Central Land Council – our client and custodians of the project for the community – commissioned Warlukulangu Artists (www.warlu.com) to run community workshops that have produced 16 beautiful painted Jukurrpa panels which have been hung in the entrance courtyard of the building. The panels are painted by and, typically, represent each of the families of the community. The school children have also painted small paintings which have been “hung” on the children’s wing of the building.
The Mount Theo run youth centre that forms the third side of the new courtyard has even had a beautiful face lift with a fantastic new paint job and mural. (www.mttheo.org)
Our local ABC covered event too – see their stories here: