Bulmba-ja: Where artists and elders work in harmony

Playing a vital role in the thriving Cairns art scene, we are incredibly proud to have delivered Bulmba-ja (formerly Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts), a theatre, gallery and creative development space for the local community. Bulmba-ja supports Far North Queensland arts and culture with a focus on showcasing the unique stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Completed in 2019, Hansen Yuncken worked collaboratively with Indigenous artists and custodians of the land to determine the shape of the final project and deliver ground floor and first floor renovations.

Building works included additions to the existing theatre, rehearsal space, art galleries, gallery shop, street front café, upper level administration offices that were redesigned with an Elder’s Lounge, Yarning Circle, gender-separable change area and outdoor entry to the theatre space.

Local materials have been incorporated throughout the interior and exterior of the project. The striking exterior features charred local Blackbutt timber fins, contrasted against fully programmable LED lighting strips. The changing colours of the LED lights are set on a gentle rotation to display artwork created by the region’s Indigenous artists. The timber fins on the internal face of the façade, (which are visible from the interior) have been sanded back to reveal natural timber, complimenting the timber detailing throughout the building.

The external areas of Bulmba-ja are fringed with landscaped breakout spaces, a laneway café, straddling private and public space with a palette of Herberton Porphyry, Spotted Gum and Hoop Pine timbers and Indigenous plants – creating an oasis of shade and greenery beneath the large double height colonnade.

This unique project is rich in traditional history and pays tribute to the Traditional Custodians at every opportunity – Bulmba-ja always was, and always will be an iconic cultural hub at the heart of Indigenous artists.