HASSELL and Architects Without Frontiers are working together with the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Maningrida Arts and Culture on a proposed new precinct in the community of Maningrida.

Located in far north Australia, Maningrida has an immediate population of 2300 but also services 32 outstations and homelands in the region. With a dozen different language groups, the community is also one of the most multi-lingual communities (per capita) in the world.

This project will relocate the separate Djómi Museum and Bábbarra Women’s Centre within a new, integrated Maningrida Arts and Culture Precinct dedicated to revealing the history, cultural practices and contemporary art movement of Maningrida and surrounding regions.

HASSELL principal Mark Loughnan says conversations and consultation with the local people are pivotal to the success of the design process – and to reflecting the powerful connection between place, cultural practice and art making.

“With intensive consultation, we can establish a place that truly engages with the community, develops ongoing local legacy and training programs, and also supports a form of social enterprise through the build and the creation of artwork, workshop spaces and education spaces,” he says.

The design features two new integrated buildings, each with a different personality and approach to meet its function and fulfil the needs of users.

The shape and orientation of each building reflects the needs of both visitors and operators. Because it contains the main public entry, the museum will feature an engaging central space surrounded by a series of ‘gallery boxes’ separated by outward views to nature and the adjacent airport.

As a counter point, the women’s centre will be more focused on Maningrida and the local community.

The design relies on the landscape to frame and shape access points to the buildings, creating private access for the women’s centre while still offering a welcoming public entry to the museum. HASSELL has also reconfigured the arts centre entrance to align it with the museum and form a single orientation point for all three facilities in the precinct.


The concept design for the Maningrida Arts and Culture precinct has been facilitated through the partnership of Architects Without Frontiers together with HASSELL and the network partnership members comprising Tract, Hayball, Bonacci, LCI, Grocon, and WT Partnership.