Finalist 2020

Shara Clarke Aboriginal Cultural & Education Centre

Emma Croker / Kieran Merriman / Tutors - Christine Phillips & Stasinos Mantzis / RMIT University

The design recognises the diverse and troubled history of this place while providing new opportunities

The Shara Clarke Centre is an education and learning facility that sits within the Framlingham Aboriginal Community. The design recognises the diverse and troubled history of this place while providing new opportunities for self-led education and exploration in music and crafts.

Inspired by native plants which have evolved to act in response to fire, our design moves with the wind and changes with the seasons. It creates growth, new opportunities and new stories; showing the positive side of aboriginal culture. By forging connections to past traditions we hope to weave new prospects for the future.

Design Excellence

The project developed in collaboration with Uncle Lenny Clarke of the Kirrae Whurrong. Interested in developing his land adjacent to the Hopkins River in memory of his late daughter Shara Clarke and of his father Uncle Banjo Clarke who said,

“Music is the language of all cultures”.

The proposal is for a destination concert hall that holds concerts from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. With an ethos of sustainability of land and culture at its core, the project grew into a place where the farming of Indigenous plants alongside educational music and arts programs would occur.

Design Impact

  • The main theatre’s structure is designed to be disassembled for expansion or re-use. It uses sustainably sourced timber rather than steel. The greenhouse proposal uses recycled glass.
  • Working with the landscape, key line planting restores the soil and the hydrologic cycle, storing more water in the ground. There is planned reforestation for carbon offset payments and native grass regeneration.
  • Compost generated from festival food and restaurant waste, supports the reforestation and the restaurant’s native edible garden.
  • The greenhouse performance space provides a micro-climate for regenerating native
    and international plants, sold at markets.
  • The design disturbs the existing site very little.

Design Transformation

We hope that our speculative proposal regenerates the land, country and culture from the bottom up. Interaction with communities that have historically been disconnected from Australia’s design discourse becomes a way forward in the future.

Direct engagement with Victoria\’s diverse and unique history leads to new forms of cultural expression and stronger experiences for visitors. It nurtures relationships between first nations communities and the design community.

Design Innovation

Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve has had a declining population since the 1960s. The project responds to Uncle Lenny Clarke’s vision to provide an alternative for his people to the colonial prison system by reinvigorating the area with commerce, learning and the arts.
Indoor and outdoor performance spaces are named after famous Framlingham elders, Archie Roach and Reginald Saunders. They bring revenue to the community that will support the Banjo Clarke Academy where locals and guests can learn from an indigenous connection to country.
A series of transformable Artist in Residence pods will provide spaces for the artists to grow their own knowledge of Country while invigorating the site with their ideas.

Other Key Features

  • Expression of indigenous culture and values.
  • New typology for engagement with Country.
  • Commercial opportunity for the community.
  • Support of Arts Victoria’s Creative Community.
  • Rejuvenation of the natural landscape.

Student Design 2020 Finalists

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Miranda Liu, RMIT University




Charlotte McCombe / Tanuj Kalra / Jui Deepak Apte

Repose: An Economy Class Aircraft Cabin Designed For Sleep

Monash University / Monash Design Health Collab / TEAGUE

ATN GT Solar Car (Priscilla)

Matt Millar / Simon Curlis / Sarawit (Richie) Hongladaromp / ATN / RMIT

Prefab 21

Deakin University School of Architecture and Built Environment / FormFlow / Samaritan House Geelong