The Kaurna Learning Circle & Karrawirra Parinangku

University of Adelaide, South Australia

This project transforms carparks and bitumen roads to a new place that recognises and celebrates the Kaurna Aboriginal people and their deep connection to the Adelaide Plains. Five spaces are realised.

Entry with Wangu Poles (seven poles) - The laser cut artwork tell an ancient Kaurna story of the relationship between Wardlipari (the Milky Way) and the Karrawirra Pari (River Torrens). For thousands of years the Kaurna people have used the Karrawirra Pari to sustain their way of life. This artwork (artist Paul Herzich) embodies traditional ritual knowledge of the Kaurna community.

Kaurna Learning Circle is built as a place for ceremonies, cultural exchanges and learning. In the richly-textured paving is a welcome to the learning circle “Marui haa pudni tirka kurruru-ana” (good you all to come to learning circle). The circle has at its centre a corten-steel fire pit for ceremonial use with the pattern of the Karrawirra Pari engraved. Stone seats with back rests to provide for Elders and senior representatives at cultural events. A purposefully designed arbour is inscribed with a welcome to country – the design of the arbour references water and drifting logs in the rivers.

Reconciliation Garden - The garden enclosing the learning circle is accessed via compacted sand paths with all the plant species from Kaurna Country.

The University House Lawns are extended as a venue for markets and events, replacing the former bitumen carpark and retaining the existing Jacaranda trees.

The Barr Smith Lawns are likewise extended and rehabilitated, returning bitumen road to lawn and re-establishing the Barr Smith lawns as the university’s central green space and main outdoor meeting and socialising space.

This project is a recognition and celebration of Kaurna culture and connection to land. Natural materials including Australian-sourced stone, untreated timber and compacted gravels are used. Straight lines are avoided in favour of an organic and natural aesthetic.
The inclusions of Kaurna culture as a key part of the transformation implements activities outlined in the University’s Reconciliation Plan (Yangatlitya – for the future). It is a space that is welcoming to indigenous cultures, giving students and the public the opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal Australia and its on-going role in contemporary society.


Client University of Adelaide
Timeframe 2017 - 2020
Team Oxigen - Lead Consultant, Landscape Architecture & Urban Design

WGA - Civil + Structural Engineering

Lucid - Electrical + Services Engineering

Rider Levett Bucknall - Cost Planning

Paul Herzick - Kaurna + Ngarrindjeri Artist (Wangu Poles)