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Ngurra design competition

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The first stage of the Ngurra: The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Precinct architectural design competition has now concluded with the shortlisting of four multidisciplinary design teams.

The Stage 1 Expression of Interest period was held between 4 March and 1 April 2022, and a total of 25 responses were received from across Australia. The breadth of experience and interest in Stage 1 of the Design Competition was a reflection of the significance and importance of the Ngurra Cultural Precinct as an opportunity to create a long lasting legacy for all Australians.

Following a detailed evaluation of all entries, the competition jury selected the following design teams to proceed to Stage 2 of the design competition:

  • BVN Architecture with Greenaway Architects and Nguluway DesignInc as Blak Hand Collective
  • Denton Corker Marshall with Yhonnie Scarce and Kat Rodwell
  • Hassell with Djinjama Collective and Edition Office
  • Peter Stutchbury Architecture with Allen Jack + Cottier Architects

Stage 2 of the Design Competition ran from May – July 2022, with a winner to be announced towards the end of the year.

Competition structure

A two-staged design competition was conducted to determine a winning design. The Australian Institute of Architects endorsed the Design Competition.

Stage 1: Expression of Interest

Launch and call for submissions Submissions closed
4 March 2022 1 April 2022 (14:00 AEDT)

Submissions for Stage 1 are now closed. 

An Expression of Interest (EOI) was conducted to consider the demonstrated experience and eligibility of Australian architectural, urban design and landscape design firms (design teams) to enable the selection of up to four competitors to participate in Stage 2 of the design competition for the Ngurra Cultural Precinct. 

Following a detailed evaluation of all entries, the competition jury selected the following design teams to proceed to Stage 2 of the design competition:

  • BVN Architecture with Greenaway Architects and Nguluway DesignInc as Blak Hand Collective
  • Denton Corker Marshall with Yhonnie Scarce and Kat Rodwell
  • Hassell with Djinjama Collective and Edition Office
  • Peter Stutchbury Architecture with Allen Jack + Cottier Architects

Stage 2: Invited design competition

Launch Submissions close Winner selected
11 May 2022 6 July 2022 29 July 2022

Shortlisted design teams were invited to prepare detailed submissions of concept designs for the Ngurra Cultural Precinct and to present their submission to the jury. Following review of all submissions and presentations the jury will recommend a selected design to the Australian government. The selected design will be iconic, befitting its location, and reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples' aspirations, achievements and deep connection to Country.

Design themes

The design for the Ngurra Cultural Precinct should support the following themes:

  • Renew – Reflect deep and enduring respect for heritage and meaningful understanding to advance the cultural values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Restore – World-leading example of climate-positive design, living place that gives back more to nature than it takes.
  • Replenish – Unlock meaningful economic opportunities and foster innovation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples nationwide.
  • Reflect – Welcome all Australians to learn, celebrate, and embrace our common future, and to move forward on a shared journey of global significance.


Ten distinguished jury members are responsible for selecting the invited competitors to Stage 2 and determining the winning proposal of the design competition.
Ngurra design competition jurors - Clint Bracknell

Professor Clint Bracknell

Ngurra design competition juror - Gregory Burgess

Gregory Burgess

Dr Shaneen Fantin

Dr Shaneen Fantin

Professor Marcia Langton

Professor Marcia Langton

Ngurra design competition juror - Michael Mossman

Dr Michael Mossman

Ngurra design competition juror - Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins

Ngurra design competition jurors - Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

Ngurra design competition jurors - Amanda Vanstone

Amanda Vanstone

Zachariah Matysek

Zachariah Matysek

  • Professor Clint Bracknell

    A Noongar musician from the south coast of Western Australia, Professor Clint Bracknell is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Queensland.

    He has investigated connections between song, language and landscapes in Australia’s southwest for over a decade, co-developing Noongar language resources including both the first fully-adapted Shakespearean stage work and dubbed feature film in a language of Australia.

    Professor Bracknell holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Western Australia and received the 2020 Barrett Award for Australian Studies.

    An elected member and Deputy Chair of the Council of AIATSIS, Professor Bracknell also sits on the ARC Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language Advisory Committee.

  • Gregory Burgess

    For Gregory Burgess, architecture is a social, healing and ecological art. His multi award winning projects include housing, community, cultural, Indigenous, tourism, educational, health, religious, commercial, exhibition design and urban design. His awards include the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings,
    the Victorian Architecture Medal for the best building of the year, and the Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

    An honorary Doctorate of Architecture from the University of Melbourne acknowledges his artistic, social, environmental and intellectual contribution. He is recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community for environmentally-sensitive and community building design.

  • Dr Shaneen Fantin

    Dr Shaneen Fantin holds a PhD from the University of Queensland on the relationship between design and culture in Aboriginal housing and she has applied this knowledge to Indigenous housing, community and health projects across Australian and in Canada. As co-director of POD (People Oriented Design), a multi-disciplinary practice committed to sustainability and intercultural design, she brings an unusual combination
    of skills including architecture, stakeholder engagement, project management, research and teaching.

    Dr Fantin is a registered architect with 25 years experience, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and James Cook University, she sits on the Queensland State Government Urban Design and Places Panel, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Architects First Nations Advisory Working Group. In 2021, Dr Fantin (with her co-director at POD, Belinda Allwood) won the Architecture & Design Women In Sustainability Award. This is a national award that recognises women who have influenced ideas and innovation in sustainability.

  • Professor Marcia Langton

    Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO, BA (Hons), ANU, PhD Macq. U, D. Litt. ANU, FASSA is the granddaughter of an Iman man and is proud of her Indigenous heritage from her grandmother who worked in the pastoral
    industry in southwest and western Queensland. Professor Langton has qualifications in anthropology and geography, and since 2000 has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. She has produced a large body of knowledge in the areas of political and legal anthropology, Aboriginal alcohol use and harms, family violence, Indigenous agreements and engagement with the minerals industry, and Indigenous culture and art.

    Professor Langton is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, a Fellow of Trinity College, Melbourne, and an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College at the University of Queensland and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. In 2016 Professor Langton was honoured as a University of Melbourne Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, and in 2017 was appointed as the first Associate Provost at the University of Melbourne.

  • Dr Michael Mossman

    Dr Michael Mossman is a proud Kuku Yalanji man, born and raised in Cairns on Yidinji Country. He now lives and works on Gadigal land and is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Sydney School of Architecture Design and Planning. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy for his thesis: ‘Third Space, Architecture and Indigeneity’. He is also a registered architect who champions Country and First Nations cultures as agents for structural change in the broader architectural profession at educational, practice and policy levels.

  • Rachel Perkins

    Rachel Perkins is a distinguished filmmaker of Arrernte/Kalkadoon heritage. In 1992 she founded the Indigenous production company Blackfella Films and she has contributed extensively to the development of Indigenous filmmakers in Australia and, more broadly, to the Australian film and television industry. Her television work includes Redfern Now, Total Control, Mystery Road and the documentary series First Australians. Her movies are Jasper Jones, Brane Nue Dae and One Night the Moon. Ms Perkins recently led the development of the national vision for Indigenous heritage (Dhawura Ngilan) and is currently co-chairing the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance’s joint working group with the commonwealth, on national Indigenous heritage legislative reform. She has served on numerous NGO and federal agency boards including Screen Australia, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, AIATSIS, the Australian Heritage Council and Jawun, and she was a founding board member of the National Indigenous Television Service.

  • Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is a registered architect and planner who is currently employed as the Chief Planner of the National Capital Authority. In this role, Mr Smith is responsible for Strategic Planning, Planning Approvals, Master planning, Urban Design, Capital Works and Heritage within the Canberra’s Central National Area.

    Mr Smith has worked in a variety of roles in Australia and overseas and has won a number of awards for his planning and design work.

    The National Capital Authority is charged with representing the Australia Government’s role in the planning and design of Canberra as the national capital.

  • Amanda Vanstone

    Born in Adelaide, Amanda Vanstone studied arts and law at the University of Adelaide and worked in law, retailing and small business before entering politics. As Liberal senator for South Australia from 1984 to 2007, Ms Vanstone held ministerial portfolios including employment, education, training and youth affairs; justice and customs; family and community services; immigration and multicultural and Indigenous affairs.

    After her resignation from the Senate Ms Vanstone served as the ambassador to Italy until July 2010. Ms Vanstone serves on the boards and committees for various organisations – including Drinkwise Australia, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Woomera Protected Area Advisory Committee and the University of Adelaide.

  • Zachariah Matysek

    Zachariah Matysek is proud Meriam man from the Meuram tribe in Zenadth Kes (the Torres Strait).

    Mr Matysek is currently a part of the Torres Strait Regional Authority’s (TSRA) Executive Team, overseeing the Culture, Arts and Heritage, Healthy Communities and Safe Communities programmes.

    Backed by over a decade of experience in Senior Leadership positions across Local, State and Commonwealth Government, and in the Non-For-Profit sector, Zachariah has and continues to drive transformational change, ensuring successful and culturally appropriate program, project, and service delivery for First Nations Australians in health, housing, homelessness, education, cultural maintenance and preservation, and community safety.

Cultural design lead

AIATSIS has appointed Balarinji, Australia's foremost Indigenous design and strategy studio, as Ngurra Cultural Design Lead throughout the project’s development.

Balarinji will work in close and continuous partnership with AIATSIS and its project teams through the co-design process to optimise Ngurra’s physical, social, Country (environmental), cultural and spiritual objectives.

Balarinji will undertake and draw from community engagement and its own major infrastructure experience to work collaboratively with the successful proponent team to deliver the project.

Competition advisor

Ethos Urban has been appointed by AIATSIS as the competition advisor responsible for managing the design competition.

All enquiries regarding the design competition are to be directed to 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Last updated: 14 November 2022