Ngamawari Pavilions

Contemporary architecture, connected to Country

Acton, Canberra ACT
City Renewal Authority
Architecture, Public

The design and positioning of two pavilions to sit within a broader park to renew Acton’s waterfront, Ngamawari. Led by ASPECT Studios, Ngamawari consists of a series of curated landscapes, native gardens, event lawns and a playscape supported by park amenities. This project is part of a longer-term plan to rehabilitate and activate the Acton waterfront, with improved connections between the lake and the City Centre. The 30,000m2 park sits adjacent to Lake Burley Griffin, directly south of this future West Basin precinct.

The project sits on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, on Ngunnawal Country — a shallow, human-made lake that occupies the floodplain of the Molonglo River. Our role was to design and position two pavilions on the site. ASPECT’s vision for Ngamawari is a park that embodies care and connection to Ngunnawal Country.

With these two pavilions, we sought to offer modest architecture that was subservient to the landscape, to blur the lines between landscape and built form. Our vision for their construction is one of natural materials; rammed earth and wood. The arrival pavilion sits at the intersection of the street and the water. It presents an in-the-round meeting space and smoking pit for ceremony, hand washing, cafe kiosk, and places to sit. It provides shade and shelter, protected but visually open to the sky and the water.

The play pavilion, located adjacent the children’s native play zone at the centre of the park, includes toilets and change rooms to encourage and facilitate play in and next to the lake; and café amenities for children’s carers and visitors. It also includes a hand washing basin at children’s height with bird hide style apertures that look onto the water. This pavilion serves as a windbreak and allows occupants to sit in the sun or look out onto what was the river, and is now the lake.

Our work was heavily influenced by Indigenous community consultation led by Indigenous design thinkers, Yerrabingin. From this consultation, we understood the need for inclusive and welcoming communal spaces that allow for ceremony and story-telling, a place where healing can take place, both through exchange and through regeneration of the landscape.

Images courtesy of the City Renewal Authority, project lead ASPECT Studios, and the artist of the renders, Mark Gerada.

ASPECT Studios (Head Consultant), Yerrabingin Pty Ltd, Bridge42, Spiire, ACOR Consultants Pty Ltd, Eric Martin & Associates Architects, Cundall, SCT Consulting, Veris, Phillip Chun, Purdon Planning, WSP, Formswell Design, MSH Structural Engineering, Douglas Partners, Park Management Systems, Visabel, SDC Engineering Pty Ltd, MBM, B.M.S Forestry.

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