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As part of the pre-New Academic Street construction works, the Ngarara Willim Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has been relocated to Building 5.

Project: Ngarara Willim Centre relocation to Building 5

Architect: Six Degrees

Commenced: 2 March 2015

Completed: 18 May 2015

The Ngarara Willim Centre supports and encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during their studies at RMIT. It offers student kitchen facilities, meeting and study spaces, as well as computers and seating areas.

Ngarara Willim means ‘gathering place’ in the language of the Wurundjeri people – the traditional custodians of the land where RMIT stands.

The new Centre provides a cultural space for the external Indigenous community to meet and visit RMIT staff and students on Wurundjeri land.

The wood panelling and wall space has been decorated with the Centre’s own Indigenous artefacts and painting collection.

Stacey Campton, Senior Manager, Ngarara Willim Centre, said the new Centre offered students and staff more space and improved facilities.

“We are very pleased with the design. It’s exciting, brings nature indoors and provides closeness to the environment and country which we acknowledge and respect. Ngarara Willim’s relocation to the centre of the City campus also reflects the role, responsibility, position and place of Australia’s First Nations people. And it’s a space our students will be proud to show our Elders.”

Ellen Buttrose, from Six Degrees Architects, said the use of Blackbutt, a eucalyptus species native to the south-east corner of Australia, was especially important.

“The timber panelling helps to soften the space, which can easily become utilitarian. The plywood panelling was seen as especially important after Ngarara Willim’s staff highlighted the significance of using natural materials,” she said. “It evokes a sense of connection to country, place and the environment.”

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