in collaboration with architects without frontiers, the bawinanga aboriginal corporation and maningrida arts and culture, HASSELL has designed a new community center for maningrida in the northern territory of australia. the site, known as manayingkarírra to the kunibidji people (the traditional owners of the land), is envisioned as a precinct that will include the djómi museum and bábbarra women’s centre. the project aims to shed light on the history, culture and contemporary art movement of the remote region, while also forming an architectural expression that is contextually relevant to the location.

HASSELL envisions new arts and culture precinct in a remote area of northern australia designboom

eastern view of the proposed maningrida arts and culture precinct

all images courtesy of HASSELL



HASSELL‘s design for the precinct is in collaboration with senior artists and cultural leaders of the region to ensure the design responds physically, culturally and socially to the context and feels inherently of its place. the scheme features two new integrated buildings, each with a different personality and approach to meet its function and fulfil the needs of users. the new bábbarra women’s centre is more internal, private, local and connected, while the new djómi museum is more public and outward reaching. even though the buildings will use similar materials, construction and systems, they will still feel distinct in terms of how people experience and use them.

HASSELL envisions new arts and culture precinct in a remote area of northern australia designboom

southern view



the shape and orientation of each building reflects the needs of both visitors and operators. as it contains the main public entry, the museum will feature an engaging central space surrounded by a series of ‘gallery boxes’ separated by outward views to nature and the adjacent airport. as a counter point, the women’s centre will be more focused on maningrida and the local community. the design relies on the landscape to frame and shape access points to the buildings, creating private access for the women’s centre while still offering a welcoming public entry to the museum.

HASSELL envisions new arts and culture precinct in a remote area of northern australia designboom
northern view



HASSELL principal and board member mark loughnan comments how conversations and consultation with the local people are pivotal to the success of the design process. ‘a custom-made facility for the community is crucial to supporting and harnessing the creative, cultural practices within this region,’ loughnan adds. ‘the precinct not only provides a local service to the people of maningrida and its outstations – it can also create sensitive and sustainable connections to the world beyond.’



the proposal seeks to prioritise local employment, education and indigenous business enterprise opportunities throughout the design, construction and life of the precinct. this is proposed through a range of measures including commissioning bespoke artwork to be integrated within the design and developing an indigenous participation strategy to maximise use of locally made materials and workforce. ‘a key goal of the project is to collaborate with local partners on design solutions that address long-term community needs and also improve the social and economic capacity of local organisations and workforce,’ loughnan iterates.



project info:


project name: ‘maningrida arts and culture precinct’

project location: maningrida, northern territory, australia

architects: HASSELL and architects without frontiers


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynne myers | designboom