top Looing south-east towards the display room at the head of the goanna-inspired building. above Looking south towards the display room at the 'head' of the goanna.
In the display room, looking towards the front verandah at left and the office at right.
On the front veranda, looking towards the display room.
The Googar Creative Work Centre, at the Bathurst Correctional Centre in western
NSW, has been built in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in
Custody and Miller Report on ATSIC; to provide indigenous male inmates with better
opportunities for employment and cultural expression. Denis Kombumerrie, manager
of the Aboriginal design unit in the NSW Department of Public Works and Services,
designed the workshops with inmates and goal administrators. Inmates suggested
a concept inspired by the lace monitor goanna; totem of the local Wiradjuri people.
The new pavilion, built on a tight budget in steel and plywood, is located away from
the gaol, looking north-east towards Bathurst and the distant Blue Mountains.
Landscaping interprets the Wiradjuri 'Burbung' ceremony for initiating young men.
Architect's Statement by Denis Kombumerrie
The building explores animal imagery in a way that strikes a balance between
suggestion and imagination. The design is intended to encourage the oral tradition
of passing on culture. Reference to the goanna's colour, markings and form were
translated into the design; including the collection of water into four points of
contact with the ground and the disabled ramp, which refers to the animal's tail.
The floor plan was deliberately designed into irregular spaces in reaction to the
rectilinear rooms typically found in institutional buildings.
Comment by Andrea Wilson
The Googar centre is perched on a gentle north-east facing slope, outside the goal
walls, overlooking the plains to the north-west of Bathurst. The landscape is bare
paddock, with planting under way to augment the symbolism of the building and
provide necessary wind-breaks and environmental mediation.
The plan uses the image of Goanna to dissect and enclose external spaces
and order the interior. But the symbolism is more freely interpreted in three
dimensions, with a building that is highly directional and outward-looking.
The north-east side is public, with a continuous deck providing access to all rooms,
whereas the south-west side is private, with fewer openings and limited external
access-from the central workshops only. The northern walls curve away from the
public forecourt, giving a sense of outlook which is heightened by the hillside falling
away from the pavilion. The southern walls lend a cave-like back to a private court
behind and, together with the landscaping, enclose the space between. The
upwards slope further increases the sense of inward focus.
Spatial manipulation continues inside, where rooms are interlinked to give a sense
of flow that is unexpected from the plan. Partitions stop well short of the ceiling. A
ridge light illuminates the rooms, and the ceiling, lights and service ducts overshoot
the partitions to spatially connect the workshops. Exposed services and hanging
power outlets exaggerate the transparency of spaces which are externally glazed.
The western room is the most spectacular. Walls, lights and ceiling converge
upwards to a glazed west wall. This display area will lend a strong sense of pride to
producers of the work shown here.
The many allusions and metaphors are suggestive rather than literal. The building
sets up dynamic relationships between indoor and outdoor spaces, its place on the
hill and the nearby corrective centre. Importantly, it is a corrective facility with little
or no sense of confinement or repression. In this way, it represents a new type
which speaks hopefully and emphatically to a progressive and positive culture.
Andrea Wilson is a Sydney architect in independent practice.
Googar Creative Work Centre, Bathurst, NSW
Architects Merrima Aboriginal Design Unit, NSW
Department of Public Works & Services (DPWS)
-design architect Dennis Kombumerrie, detail
documentation Yohann Wuhrer Architects. Client
Corrective Services Industries-Wayne Ruckley.
Structural Engineers Partridge Partners.
Electrical Engineers Barry Webb & Associates.
Hydraulic Engineers DPWS Hydraulic Services.
Quantity Surveyor Page Kirkland Partnership.
Project Co-ordination DPWS Portfolio Strategies.
Project Management, Construction DPWS
Riverina Western Region.