Consultation with the Aboriginal community identified that it is important that the centre be directly located in natural bushland so the centre and the outdoor spaces are connected in a culturally appropriate way to the surrounding bush.
This location is culturally appropriate, accessible via public transport, has high visitor numbers, and is located near the Bibra Lake Regional Playground. It backs onto high grade bushland suitable for cultural tours and activities.
After consultation with the Aboriginal community, the eastern side of the lake was considered to be culturally unsuitable. The Wetlands Education area is considered to be a place of cultural significance for Aboriginal women and children, but not for Aboriginal men to have an ongoing presence there.
The feasibility study found that a co-located Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre is feasible when subsidised and managed by the City of Cockburn.
Extensive consultation was undertaken with the local Aboriginal community, City of Cockburn Aboriginal Reference Group and members of the Whadjuk Working Party to determine the key design themes for the centre. These included the turtle shaped building, integration with nature and use of organic forms.
Key community groups such as the Wetlands Education Precinct Group, residents groups, environmental groups and surrounding businesses and schools were also contacted and offered an interview by the consultants and the City of Cockburn. Two public meetings and an online survey about the concept design were also advertised and conducted as part of the design process. Extensive community consultation was undertaken with the local Aboriginal community, Aboriginal Reference Group and Wetlands Education Precinct group. Key stakeholders, Elected Members, and key staff were also contacted and offered an interview by the consultants. Two public meetings and an online survey were also advertised and conducted as part of the process.
Following the review and the subsequent increase in capital works, the City worked closely with the Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) and the City’s Aboriginal Community Development Officers consulting with Aboriginal Elders, Traditional Owners and Aboriginal community members, as well as the architect to make design changes that provide cultural and environmental benefits while also achieving cost savings. A working party has also been formed to continue providing cultural advice throughout the design process.
The estimated total floor size of the building is 1,259 sqm plus parking and outdoor landscaped spaces (which equates to 6,500 sqm). Inside the centre space will be required for a static and interactive museum display, cultural awareness training, educational and general activities, a café and visitors centre. Spaces will be available for use or hire for a range of cultural and other visitors activities.
The centre has been positioned to minimise the clearing of native vegetation. The building and carpark have been located in a partially cleared and degraded area, with the building positioned so that the majority of the footprint will be located within lower quality vegetation. The vegetation will be retained adjacent to the future building, where this complies with bushfire protection standards. An environmental offset has also been provided by the City.
Vegetation will be salvaged where possible and used in the landscaping of the centre. Grasstrees and Macrozamia palms have been temporarily removed from the site and will be relocated as part of the landscaping of the site. Seed collection was also undertaken in the project footprint area in Spring 2020 and these seeds will be used to grow plants used for landscaping around the building, carpark and surrounding bushland.