New Student Living In WA Heavily Inspired By Indigenous Culture


Saint Catherine’s College, within the University of Western Australia, is preparing for a new $10 million accommodation wing which has been designed with an indigenous element to signify a family culture, by architecture firm Wilson Architects.

Saint Catherine’s Head of College Fiona Crowe said the design will truly create the sense of one giant family living and learning together.

“Thanks to the new design, our campus will be beautiful and buzz with student activity on every level,” Ms Crowe said.

The new wing will house an additional 54 students in the College’s Indigenous Access Program, which currently accommodates 400 residents.

The program is titled Dandjoo Darbalung – ‘mixing together’ in Nyoongar country, the way fresh water and salt water mixes in the Swan Estuary near the College.

It will also feature a new cultural learning centre and a fire pit, which Wilson Architects said will act as a "campus beacon for the central indigenous cultural space".


Dandjoo Darbalung will deliver a mix of accommodation options, indoor and outdoor learning spaces, and a private roof garden for an artist in residence.

Wilson Architects Managing Director Hamilton Wilson said the firm's design referenced Indigenous principles of landscape and country, and aimed to acknowledge the importance of identity derived from place.

Their aim was to create a space which nurtured ‘living and learning’, with a design approach focused on creating connections for students, while supporting their education.

The design incorporated formal and informal teaching and learning spaces and encourages students and staff to live, eat, study, work and socialise together.

“Just as we know that providing accommodation is more than just a bed, learning is also more than just a desk," Mr Hamilton said.

“We’ve been inspired by the Aboriginal concept of deep listening. It is a way of encouraging people to explore and learn from the ancient heritage of Aboriginal culture, knowledge and understanding.

"This has been our philosophy throughout.”

The project is expected to begin construction in November 2017.

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