University students provide the architecture for early childhood learning

July 11 / 65

Masters students from the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning worked with the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) last month to build an early childhood learning centre in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The students spent ten days in Wakathuni - a 'homeland' community of 20 houses - constructing an early childhood centre to meet local needs.

The buildings, made from four modified shipping containers, included two roof structures which were linked with extensive decking and landscaping.

The students consulted the community to tailor the design to the site, climate and local aspirations.

Dr David O’Brien, from the Master of Architecture program, said the project was valuable for the local community and the students. “Not only will the local community benefit from the learning centre, but this program also provides opportunities for students to engage with Indigenous Australians,” he said.

“Too often Indigenous communities are disadvantaged in the construction and design processes. Our students worked through the issues on-site with the community to reach a more cohesive and useful outcome. 

“The students really appreciate the opportunity to construct such an important building, which assists in Wakathuni’s development.”

The construction of the centre marks the start of a much longer interdisciplinary project  supported by the traditional owner board of GAC, representing the Nyiyapali, Banyjima and Innawonga peoples of the Pilbara. 

Staff from the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning will collaborate with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education to develop an educational model for the early childhood learning centre.

Instead of dividing the project into two distinct components, the architecture and educational facets of the project will be integrated.

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