Following a highly competitive tender process, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative (Wathaurong) is pleased to announce the appointment of Woods Bagot as the successful architects who will lead the proposed $26m Morgan Street redevelopment project.
Founded in the late 1970s and incorporated in 1980 by local Aboriginal community members, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative has grown from conversations around kitchen tables, to providing health, family and community services to more than 85% of the Aboriginal population in the region.
It’s current premises at 62 Morgan Street, North Geelong, were officially opened on 4th October 1996.
Since then, the Co-operative has grown extensively, with additional premises being leased at the Federal Mills, North Geelong and Albert Street, Geelong West to cater for the growth in service delivery and staff. The need for a new facility that will serve as a cultural community hub has been highlighted over the past few years as a priority for the Wathaurong Board.
Wathaurong CEO, Simon Flagg, said that the redevelopment of the Morgan Street site was well overdue.
“Infrastructure is fundamental to meeting the needs of our community. Our vision is to develop spaces that embrace our cultural connection, bring community and staff together, enhance efficiency and increase accessibility, and strengthen our identity in the Geelong region,” said Mr. Flagg.
The appointment of Woods Bagot as architects for the project will allow Wathaurong to begin the process of engaging the local Aboriginal community to design a culturally safe and inclusive site.
“We are thrilled to have Woods Bagot on board – they have a proven track record in delivering beautiful, functional and culturally appropriate designs.”
Woods Bagot Principal, Bronwyn McColl, shared Mr. Flagg’s enthusiasm on collaborating, noting the importance of connecting with the local Wathaurong community to create a cultural hub.
“We’re incredibly excited to begin our long and deep conversation with the Wathaurong community, to learn and bring their vision for the Co-operative to life, embedding genuine Aboriginal influence and agency into this design process,” said Ms. McColl.
“The aspirations of the Wathaurong community are the very foundation of the design process. We can’t wait to begin the discussions that will unearth this vision.”
“Alongside enhancing the Co-operative’s usability, we are dedicated to creating a place that brings the community together through sincere social and cultural connectedness. It will be a new landmark for the Wathaurong identity in the Geelong region.”
Woods Bagot will be holding community engagement workshops and yarns with the local Wathaurong community over the coming months to begin the process of designing something that is strong in community, strong in culture and strong in country.
Woods Bagot have previously been involved in other Aboriginal led projects such as Tarrkarri - Centre for First Nationals Cultures, which was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot. Examples of their previous work can be found on their website here.
From left to right: Bronwyn McColl (Principal, Woods Bagot), Rose De Jong (Infrastructure Manager, Wathaurong), Simon Flagg (CEO, Wathaurong), Jasmine Kerdel (Graduate, Woods Bagot) and Tahlia Landrigan (Interior Designer, Wathaurong) stand in front of the existing Wathaurong Health Services building at Morgan Street, North Geelong.