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Honouring Aboriginal trailblazers and activists at UTS Indigenous College

A stunning concept created by Greenaway Architects, Warren and Mahoney and OCULUS has won the design competition for UTS’ future National First Nations College.

Honouring Aboriginal trailblazers and activists at UTS Indigenous College

University of Technology (UTS), Sydney has announced the winning concept for its Indigenous College with the design’s connection to Country and Indigenous themes to create what the university describes as an exceptional student experience.

Indigenous input was vital throughout each phase of the design competition. Fronting Ultimo’s Harris Street, the building will serve as a student accommodation complex, as well as a place to showcase Indigenous creatives, internal community spaces, meeting rooms, communal kitchens and a verdant rooftop garden.

UTS Indigenous College

Greenaway Architects’ Jefa Greenaway, a descendant of the Wailwan and Kamilaroi peoples of northwest NSW, believes the building will become an exemplar of First Nations design.

“We’re building on the deep legacy of Indigenous knowledge in order to come up with a new model of what a First Nations college is in the 21st century,” he says.

“We’ve sought to really infuse the legacy and history of Indigenous people, trailblazers, warriors who have come before, so we’re not starting from a clean slate. We’re acknowledging not only the deeper history, but also the more recent histories around Aboriginal activism and the College’s proximity to places like Redfern, which were very much an incubator for Indigenous activism and civil rights.”

Related: Jefa Greenaway in profile

UTS Indigenous College

The competition brief was developed by Indigenous Australians, with each of the six shortlisted teams appointed an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander architect or suitably qualified designer as Cultural Design Lead, who shared cultural knowledge. 

“Our team’s deep collaboration was always embedded in Country and committed to a people focused approach setting out to enrich the student experience and celebrate the power of Country in a contemporary urban context,” says OCULUS’ Bob Earl, whose practice has been chosen as Landscape Design Lead.

UTS Indigenous College

Supported by the likes of Woolworths, the state government, City of Sydney and the Oranges and Sardines Foundation, the College aims to celebrate the identity and culture of Indigenous Australians.

UTS Vice-Chancellor Andrew Parfitt says the facility delivers on the university’s strategy to nurture Indigenous peoples in higher education: “The National First Nations College will raise the bar on efforts to increase Indigenous participation, retention and success in higher education, and help to remove a major barrier by providing access to cost-covered, culturally informed and enriched accommodation. It will not only address the student-housing gap, but also make a strong contribution to the national identity and Indigenous employment growth in Australia.”

Greenaway Architects

Warren and Mahoney


We think you might also like this story on five insights, including on Country, from the 2023 World Architecture Festival.

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