Coffs Harbour City Council is inviting the local community to comment on three distinct designs for a new cultural and civic space for the CBD of the city on the New South Wales north coast.
The proposed centre will include a new library and art gallery, a cafe and workshop spaces, council chambers, offices and customer service, and possibly a museum.
The three designs for the space, developed by Design Inc and Lacoste Stevenson, FJMT and Dominic Finlay Jones Architects, all take inspiration from Indigenous art and culture and preference inclusivity and community engagement.
Design Inc and Lacoste Stevenson
Design Inc and Lacoste Stevenson’s design is for a building in the round, with “no front [and] no back.” Its organic form is intended to attract locals and visitors alike, allowing access from all directions and facilitating social interaction. The geometry of the white lace-like shell is inspired by Gumbaynggirr Nation and, more broadly, Aboriginal art. It features large, flexible floorplates, which can be easily modified for future needs and will contribute to a large thermal mass. Crowning the building will be a roof garden and amphitheatre suitable for functions along with a protruding tower.
“The top tower will be clad with white sails as a symbol of the city,” the design team’s statement reads. “At night the tower is lit. Projected images on the sails will create an ever-changing image of the building.”
FJMT’s design takes inspiration from the Gumbaynggirr story Muurrbay Bundani, a story about the “tree of life.” Like the tree, the building is envisioned to be a place which offers shade and protection and which allows for cooperation, sharing and inclusion. It will feature interconnected art, museum, library and civic spaces, and foreground the importance of open spaces for community events.
With a material palette reflective of the “sandstone and marine colours of the coast” and the “lush greenery of the hinterland,” the design will include PV and geothermal technology and preference biophilic design and landscape integration.
Dominic Finlay Jones Architects
At the heart of Dominic Finlay Jones Architects’ scheme is a public space – an internal street – which will provide a “human-scaled” place to encourage exposure to cultural events.
“Once inside, the building reveals itself as a series of open verandahs organized below the canopy,” a design statement reads. “Simple to read and easier to navigate, [the space will be] a sub-tropical city square for Coffs Harbour.”
The form of the canopy references the grey mangroves of the neighbouring Coffs Creek, while a rammed-earth box housing the gallery and museum spaces will be imprinted with a pattern inspired by The Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance Aboriginal Corporation, a local body for Aboriginal arts and culture.
“Overall, the scheme encourages a critical regionalism approach to architecture where local materials and makers are fundamental to the design and construction of the place.”
The proposed cultural and civic centre will be located at the site of a former Salvation Army building on Gorton Street in the heart of the city. The council endorsed that location in June 2016 following an investigation of 11 possible sites identified in a city centre masterplan.
Estimated forecasts suggest that the costs of the redevelopment will be approximately $35 million.
Community members will be able to comment on the competing designs until the end of March 2018.