Three Architects Compete to Design Coffs Harbour Cultural Precinct


Coffs Harbour City Council has reached the community consultation phase for the development of a new cultural, civic and community space.

The council is inviting the community to comment on three designs by three separate architecture firms for the development. The shortlisted firms are FJMT, Dominic Finlay Jones Architects and Design Inc and Lacoste Stevenson.

The building, which is to be built on the site of 23-31 Gordon Street, will incorporate a new state-of-the-art central library and regional gallery, a multi-purpose civic and meeting space, café and co-working space and a council customer service area and office space.

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Acting Coffs Harbour Mayor George Cecato said the new cultural and civic space was a major focus for council to draw the eye to a revitalised CBD.

“Having an attractive facility that incorporates a modern library and gallery, a youth area and digital media studio, exhibition space, workshops and makers’ studios, public art, a café, small events space and technology resources, means people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have a reason to visit,” Cecato said.

“We want a new cultural heart for our city that is inclusive, appealing and welcoming to all.”

Council have on hand three different architectural concepts to choose from, drawn up by Design Inc and Lacoste Stevenson, FJMT and Dominic Finlay Jones Architects

Coffs Harbour City Council have not disclosed what the project will cost to build, but initial planning suggests that it could open somewhere between 2021-2023.

At the heart of Dominic Finlay Jones Architects’ scheme is an “internal street” which acts as a public space that connects all of the building’s amenities, covered by a sub-tropical canopy, that covers the entire site and continues across Riding Lane.

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Referencing Coffs Harbour’s hinterland greenery, sandstone and marine colours, FJMT chose to centre their design concept around “a story of the importance of cooperation, sharing and inclusion” but designing a fine grain pedestrian network which gives the illusion of “gathering under the shade and protection of a tree”.

Design Inc and Lacoste Stevenson’s design took an alternative approach – envisioning a round building with no front or back, allowing access from all directions. With a “white lace” that wraps around the building, the geometry was inspired by Gumbaynggirr and more broadly Aboriginal art, and creates large flexible floorplates, that can be easily modified internally for future needs and uses at reasonable cost.

The community has from until 25 March to provide feedback on the concepts.

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