"The building takes its name from the Noongar word for the endangered Carnaby's black cockatoo the Ngoolark," says the architect.
"The materials reference this, and other elements from nature. For example, the golden perforated aluminium veil that wraps around the upper three levels of the building is based on the shimmering scales of a butterfly wing. The panels were designed as a continuous skin, which was folded and modulated as it was laid in place around the building. The fabric was then stretched and rolled to the east to become a floating sculptural roof of the cafe on the upper podium."
But while the veil itself references a butterfly's wing, the perforated patterns on it are derived from the curved overlapping feathers of the Carnaby's cockatoo. These are represented as solid and void in the gold veil.
"This creates a rich patina externally, along with wonderful shadows and silhouettes on the interior as they reflect light, colour and shade in myriad patterns around the building."
These patterns are reinterpreted in the white ceramic frit on the external glazing behind the veil, while a local honey-eater, or jindee, is patterned onto the frameless glazing in the five-storey atrium foyer. The pattern is also echoed in a bespoke carpet design.
"There are further local references in the landscaping of the podium and forum," says Thomson. "The paving embodies the flow of water through the site, complete with eddies and eroding rocks. The silver granite pattern inlaid into dark charcoal concrete references the name Joondalup, which translates to the silvery light of the moon reflected on water.
"The podium's folded and sculpted white concrete soffit and facetted columns appear eroded and opened up, just as they would be in nature. We also added seven eucalypts that will provide a leafy shade canopy and dappled light."
The architect says Ngoolark has not only changed the entire campus by introducing a integrally connected civic building and precinct, but it has also changed how surrounding buildings and precincts operate. There are new physical connections between the podium and library, coffee shop and lecture theatre, as well as direct links to other buildings, roads and car parks.
On the inside, Ngoolark incorporates the Student Services Centre, a public zone, sophisticated office accommodation with open-plan workplace environments, collaborative spaces and breakout areas that open out to the atrium. The building has been designed so it can be converted easily into classroom and teaching spaces if required.