The Visitor Centre in Karijini National Park in the remote Pilbara is set in one of Australia’s most extraordinary landscapes. Integrated with its surroundings, the building form confidently engages with the inherent strength of the landscape.

The project brief was to create a building for the interpretation of the park, its geology, flora, fauna, people and history. The cultural symbol chosen by the aboriginal stakeholders for the form of the building is a Kurrumanthu (goanna/lizard).

The design objective was to represent, through the built form, respect for the intentions of the aboriginal stakeholders and to stimulate interest in a reappraisal of our collective past, place in the landscape and relationship between aboriginal and non aboriginal people.

The building is defined by an assembled collection of freestanding overlapping weathered steel wall panels which emerge directly from the red brown earth and are arranged in plan to provide an abstract representation of the Kurrumanthu.

Entry into the building is through glass doors set between two of the steel wall panels. Once inside, large frameless glass windows draw the visitor back into an alienated landscape at every turn.

The design result is an ambiguous form that is absorbed by the landscape and open to interpretation on a number of levels.


  • BHP Steel Design Award; Sir Zelman Cowan Award for Public Building Commendation AIA 2001
  • World Architecture Awards Readers Choice, World Architecture 2001
  • PCA Rider Hunt Award, Property Council of Australia – WA 2001