The Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa (Cultural Wellness Centre) is a community meeting place located in Broome, a remote town 2200km north west of Perth on the grounds of Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY). The centre is designed to foster the revitalisation of Yawuru culture through landscape, art and architecture which reflects mabu liyan (good feeling).

LnN is a place to honour and celebrate Yawuru people, the Traditional Custodian of Broome and their culture. It is a place for healing and reconciliation, designed to maximise cultural wellness for the community. Key components include

  • a large central outdoor gathering area;
  • a central nurlu (dancing) area;
  • various sized meeting spaces;
  • a community garden;
  • playgrounds;
  • artworks;
  • a multi-purpose building and community hall;
  • Country Managers’ workshop;
  • café and commercial kitchen, and;
  • an extension of NBY’s existing language and archiving centre.

LnN is now an invaluable cultural activity hub for traditional and modern cultural practices including:

  • Cultural practice and incubation activities;
  • Reviving Yawuru Nurlu (traditional song and dance) and material culture;
  • Development of both contemporary and traditional dance and music;
  • Respect for elders and ancestors;
  • Story telling;
  • Bush cooking;
  • Community events; and,
  • Training & workshops.

MMS’s approach for this project allowed for cultural exchange within the design process, offering an example of a working method that is truly collaborative and respectful. The resulting landscape is one that has been uniquely designed with and for the end-user and is a health and wellbeing landscape unique to its community and context.

The design process ran over six years and created a collaborative partnership between MudMap Studio (MMS) and NBY. Throughout the project, MMS Director Vanessa Margetts was deeply aware of LnN’s significance and of the importance of aligning with community goals and aspirations. In response, Vanessa Margetts designed a strategic four stage design process:

  1. Community Visioning;
  2. Concept Design;
  3. Detailed Design; and,

A carefully planned community engagement process ran throughout each stage, allowing for regular and clear communication between MMS, NBY and Yawuru community with goals and objectives of all parties shared and developed throughout.

Engagement and partnership are concepts central to the success of LnN. Built upon a foundation of mabu liyan, the strategic approach undertaken ensured that the community has maintained ownership of this project from beginning to end.

The six-year design process for this project allowed time for the project to grow organically and drove exemplary research and investigation. Vanessa Margetts worked with Yawuru community representatives to research and develop a collective understanding of what mabu liyan might look like when embodied in a place. This research informed the project vision, which would then underpin all future stages of the design and construction process. MMS’ engagement strategy ensured that as the project team expanded, collaborations with Yawuru community members, consultants and contractors remained at the project’s heart.

The resulting LnN landscape shows how a thoughtful and coherent design strategy can facilitate the conversations essential to gaining an understanding of what liyan (wellbeing) means in a specific community context. Conversations, undertaken in many forms and over many years, ensured that the design for LnN is one that aligns with both client and community goals and supports holistic wellbeing in a way that is right for this place and its people.

The design process for the LnN has ensured that Yawuru people are making decisions about how their country is being shaped, and about how their stories are being told in a modern context. This collaboration allowed open and frank discussion about how the notion of country can be alive in an altered landscape and how a strong cultural connection can remain when so much has changed. Community contributors (artists, cultural advisors and Elders) have been recognised as experts of their ‘place’ and included as paid consultants.

It makes my liyan feel good to have our artwork where everyone can see it. My art is about Yawuru country… I hope this work will help the story to be passed down to future generations.

– Martha Lee, LnN artist


From a design perspective, innovation and leadership as well as sustainable practice principles were key considerations in the visioning, design and construction of LnN.

The LnN landscape has been designed to reach out to every aspect of Yawuru life that makes liyan feel good; family and community; country; culture and language; history. There is nowhere else in Broome or in Yawuru country that has its infrastructure entirely influenced by the values of what makes mabu liyan.

Project team: Nyamba Buru Yawuru; MudMap Studio; Laird Tran Studio; UDLA; Bart Pigram; Jimmy Edgar; Artist Team: Martha Lee, Suzie Gilbert Terricita Corpus, Lorraine Hunter, Michael Torres, Arnold Smith, Savannah Cox, Damien Lawford, Kirra Watson; Boab Designs; and, Indent.

Project location 55 Reid Road, Cable Beach, Broome Western Australia, 6726

Aboriginal nation: Yawuru

Design year: 2012 – 2018

Year Built: 2018 – 2019



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