The Western Sydney Aboriginal Centre for Excellence (ACE) will be unique in providing a place of ‘excellence’ where Aboriginal people can have access to top class facilities, mentors and educators. The Centre – on the former Whalan Public High School site near Mt Druitt in Western Sydney- will establish itself as a nationally recognised and innovative institution that supports and grows young Aboriginal people in their chosen fields.
The deeply cultural Centre will build a strong, proud community, will encourage harmony and cultivate better relations for everyone. The Centre will be immersed in Aboriginal culture to foster and nurture Aboriginal pride and identity.
Through a dedicated space that embeds Aboriginal culture and its teaching programs, a sense of belonging for all visitors is being created.
Architecturally, ACE comprises of two buildings made up of a single level former administration office, and a double-level former classrooms block. The project adapts the two existing buildings to facilitate new uses. The work incorporates demolition, internal refurbishment and external works associated with Buildings A and C3. External space is also considered part of the site redevelopment, extending from the areas immediately adjacent the two buildings to the sporting fields to the east.
The new double height verandah creates a sense of arrival and sense of place. Framing the access with a new element offers something new and provides the ACE an identity among the existing built form. It also creates an intermediate area between the buildings and the landscape, blurring the line between indoors and outdoors and connecting people and landscape. By creating several usable spaces around the precinct people are reconnected with the landscape.
Anchoring the building in the existing landscape is the fire pit which is a cultural, gathering and sharing space that connects the Buildings to the Country. Strategic wall demolition allows new visual corridors to connect different spaces together creating holistic experience that will give a sense of place and belonging and a new character to the building. Opening slabs to create a fluid and connected spaces, and to provide an array of varying height spaces to cater to the many functions of the facility.