Western Sydney University has revealed the design for its transformational Indigenous Centre of Excellence. 

Designed by Sarah Lynn Rees, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (JCB), Peter Stutchbury Architecture and Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture, with Uncle Dean Kelly, Hill Thalis Architecture and Flux Consult, the Indigenous Centre of Excellence will be based at the Parramatta South campus located on Darug land.

Guided by Country, the design brings to life a vision for a community-centric, transformational building that integrates Indigenous knowledges.

The Indigenous Centre of Excellence will target a 6-star Green Star rating and feature a mass timber structure using Australian hardwoods. It prioritises Indigenous and Country-focused materials and suppliers, the facade will be constructed using clay sourced directly from Country.

Integrating innovative and sustainable principles, it will feature an entirely Indigenous planted landscape, honouring the site's ecological heritage and providing spaces for both human and non-human kin, fostering gathering, respite, shelter, and play.

Chancellor Professor Jennifer Westacott AO, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Barney Glover AO and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership Professor Michelle Trudgett unveiled the design, joined by NSW Premier the Hon. Chris Minns MP, members of the University’s Elders Advisory Committee, key Indigenous stakeholders and other University leaders. 

Sarah Lynn Rees: “Our design engages with the layered physical and experiential histories of the site to create a proposal that is born from the spatial language of Country and healed through the return of waterway, ecology, and home for non-human kin".

Inspired by the form and safety of the mangroves and veiled by a woven façade, the design acts as a canvas within which human and non-human kin can re-connect. The Indigenous Centre of Excellence will facilitate the practice of caring for Country and the transfer of cultural and academic knowledge, amplifying individual and collective cultural strength for the benefit of all.”

The Indigenous Centre of Excellence will be accessible to people of all ages, abilities and interests, where they will learn more about the rich Indigenous cultures and histories of Western Sydney, explore its arts and cultural collections, and attend performances, talks and screenings.

Purpose-built facilities will support the sharing and preservation of Indigenous cultures while informal learning spaces will provide opportunities for engagement and collaboration. The Indigenous Centre of Excellence will also be a place for truth telling, teaching and learning, interdisciplinary research, creativity and innovation

Supported by a $78.5 million grant from the NSW Government Western Sydney Infrastructure Grants Program, the Indigenous Centre of Excellence will be an important gathering place for the community to celebrate both the University’s and the region’s long-standing connection with Indigenous peoples.