Council releases first view of inside of proposed ‘Cultural and Civic Space.’

The following is a Media Release from the Coffs Harbour City Council’s Media Unit.

Opinions and thoughts please.

“The moment has come for a sneak peek inside our exciting new community asset, the Cultural and Civic Space.

The first glimpses of some of the spaces are starting to be revealed to give the community a better sense of what is being designed and created.

Coffs Harbour City Mayor Councillor Denise Knight said it was really exciting to be able to open up the design development work to our community.

“This is certainly shaping up to be a place of progress that we will all be very proud of.  Last week several Councillors received a design presentation from our architects BVN leaving an enormous amount of positivity in the room.

“This is about the future and giving Coffs people a modern, safe and central place to learn, hangout and be inspired.  It’s a lot more than you realise with something for everybody, 7 days a week.

“It is a key part of putting our city centre on the map especially beyond the bypass.  Having a landmark building such as this will give people that reason to turn off and take the Coffs exit.  Frankly it is what all great cities of Australia have.”

The proposed Childrens Area in the Library

The first images to be shown are of the children’s area in the library at ground floor level and the internal street that flows through the building from one side to the other. More images will be released in the coming weeks as the 80% detailed design milestone is reached.

The children’s area is vibrant and dynamic with a character of its own.  There will be different reading nooks and spaces for Storytime to capture and inspire the imaginations of our little Coffs people and their families.

One of the proposed external views

The image of the internal street within the building is looking from Gordon Street through to Riding Lane. It shows the light-filled three-dimensional space with the library and other functions looking over into the central space, with a striking circular skylight. This urban passageway will provide free flowing access throughout the day and evening.

Coffs Harbour City Council General Manager Steve McGrath said we see this project playing a role in our COVID-19 response and recovery plans, providing a place for community to come together after the challenging times we have been living through.

“The Cultural and Civic Space will certainly bring more life to the city centre, providing safe harbour and a central location for the community to share and create local stories.  It will be another tourism drawcard where you can happily take and host visitors.

Another proposed view from outside the CCS

“This is progress and it is moving our city forward, everyone is welcome, it is made for this place and for people of all ages and business.

“What we have arrived at so far in the design is enthusiastic and passionate much like the community of Coffs.  The design is fundamentally about Coffs Harbour and the area, the landscape, climate, topography and demographics.

“We look forward to sharing more of the design development as it becomes available.”


First published by the CHCC Wednesday 23 September 2020. See;

10 thoughts on “Council releases first view of inside of proposed ‘Cultural and Civic Space.’

  1. All very “cultural” I am sure but what about a look at the “civic” component of this building? And perhaps the Council can tell us how much they are spending each week on consultants and spin doctors in this the 2nd week since the local government election we were not allowed to have. A poll delayed is democracy denied. Let’s clear the air. Sign the ePetition calling for a halt to the spending on this project (see and the ePetition asking for local government elections asap (coming this week).

  2. Another magnificent media release from the CHCC News Room!

    Could this possibly be just more patronising marketing hyperbole and spin, full of glittering superlatives and pretty pictures attempting to convince the punters who’ll be paying dearly for it, that the Emerald Palace is “inspired”, “the future” and “what all great cities of Australia have” ?

    Also, “Last week several Councillors received a design presentation from our architects BVN leaving an enormous amount of positivity in the room”. Was this “enormous amount of positivity” shared by the four councillors who have continually voted against this proposal?

  3. Is this an artistic impression LOL ?We all know what that means nothing !!Next our amazing mayor will quote the Opera House and the cost of construction blew out by 1400%

  4. These showboating missives are straight-out insults. If only CHCC did economic management, community consultation, respectful process, true vision and non-facile design as well as its glistening photoshopping and peddling lines. It’s all piss and wind.

    As mentioned, where are the photos of the big, lovely new Council offices? Strange they’re not included. To the discerning, that absence says far more than curated photos and glossy quotes.

    On the photos themselves, this sort of designwork looks better when presented on paper like this, because you get to choose the point of view, and therefore the arrangement of what impacts the eye. In real life, unfortunately, facile design like this doesn’t carry that impact. It becomes run-of-the-mill. True visionary design doesn’t rely on suspended bubbles – the entire building is the feature.

    Are we all – visitors and citizens alike – going to stand there in awe, staring thankfully, mesmerised by our Council going to such great lengths to provide us those bubble things?

    No, wait. Shot that off too quick. You ALSO get a bend in the staircase!

    Unfortunately, designing like this, on paper, serves most of all to capture the commissioner’s excitement more than it serves to provide lasting inspiration to the public.

    Unfortunately, some people will think this PR missive is cause for excitement. It promises far more, on paper, than even a little consideration reveals as a lie, and the promises made by all of it end up in disappointment.

    I mean, if they’re selling that curved bookshelf or whatever it is as a design feature, we’ve got a pro-forma garden variety dud.

  5. In an indulgence with a second comment, I’d like to present briefly the difference between an internal design that relies on gimmicky add-ins and one that engenders true and lasting inspiration.

    What we have here, above, is a building that appears to be designed from the outside in. The designers have chosen a wing type shape that, from the outside, is expected to be striking and modern. Then, the idea is to try to fit everything into it. The plus to this is that there aren’t 90 degree corners – always welcome. However, internally, this particular design is all walls. That’s what you get. Walls. So what they’ve done is varied the types of walls. You get flush walls, and bulging brick walls, and so on. Then, where the ceiling is higher, you add in those bubble things. This, people, is as visionary as these designers have achieved.

    Ask yourself this: how will you feel going into it the second time? The third? Will those walls, and those bubble things marvel you, inspire you? Will they become ho-hum? – Of course they will. I’ll add, in fact, they’ll recede from effect and become invisible. There’s just nothing about this way of designing, conceptually adding in, that has lasting impact. Again, it works extremely well to the non-discerning, at first glimpse (and especially on paper) and even better to those who are simplistic and lacking vision.

    On top of that, the designers had a clear brief to accommodate Council operations in there, which has heavily impacted what can be achieved. I’d guess at a combination of around 50% for each – about half of the consideration is for Council, half for what they’re calling “culture”. (Which this isn’t really, but that’s for another day.)

    Now consider this as a different proposition. The view from City Hill spans far to the north, east, and south, and given some height, to the west. Let’s keep the main ones though: the breathtaking coastline. There’s your amenity. What you do then, in your design, is harness that amenity. Then, when you walk into this design, internally, you have a choice of sweeping vistas brought into the space as well as selected snapshots to highlight them. Up a second level, those perspectives – and therefore how you feel – changes again. The difference is that a world class amenity can be harnessed and untilised, and one which lives and moves and provides its own moods and natural dynamics, and you feel inspired and proud and interested every time you go in.

    This is not a matter of building cost. It’s thoughtfulness and respect, and vision, in design. A design of this nature can be built relatively inexpensively, depending on what you want in it (theatres etc) and can be done in stages – and all the while you are completely free to design the place without the heavy encumberment of having to include Council offices for goodness sake.

    And if that extra storey can harness the setting sun to the west – with all that to the north and south, being inside that building could feel like you’re in a living symphony.

    There is simply no comparison. Add in bubbles and gimmicks, or a world class amenity captured and serenaded and lived.

    Let me add this … imagine a brilliant, awe-inspiring light feature above the building: elegent and regal. During the day it’s sculptural, at night, it’s lit up wondrously – with every connotation that goes with that, as a seminal work of art in itself. This would be viewed from all round the area, and make aware to the citizen and visitor, and remind them, of this incredible cultural precinct.

    That scultpural artistic design (spire-like, but grander and personalised) can be relected then in three or so smaller structures around the city to further remind and celebrate the great achievement and amentiy the City folk achieved and enjoy.

    But Councillors Knight, Addendorf, Cecato and Townley want to give you walls that are either bulging brick or smooth, and add-in gimmicky bubbles – and when it comes down to it: that’s what they think of you. No more than that.

    To them, you do not deserve any better.

    1. As a passing tourist, even I’d be keen to leave the bypass to take in the splendour of what you envision for City Hill 40Cm. Now that would be a REAL draw card!

      Your vision beats hands down the pretentious folley proposed in a sleazy back street in a stale part of town.

      1. Thanks ClB, it’s so obvious it’s farcical. I feel I’ve given the impression that the views to be harnessed are “off into the distance” but City Hill is perfectly located to enjoy the unique pocket of coastal charm where the Divide edges shoreward.

        And good design is far more than deciding “that view looks good” and putting a window in front of it. This is really where that location comes into its own. (For instance, sloping a ceiling upwards from the window throws emphasis back into the room, sloping the ceiling down from the window throws the emphasis onto the view, as in a cinema; a series of tall thin windows distances the view and makes the room more intimate, as just three super basic design principles of many sophisticated techniques available.) All those expanses and overlooked pockets of living, dynamic interest and moods are there ready and waiting, and brought into the space would make anyone proud to live or visit. Added to that of course is the ability to include outdoor spaces as well – breakfast or lunch, anyone?

        These four Councillors and no doubt the GM and perhaps a handful of others fail to realise so much, and one of these is that Council’s operation is not something equal to a city’s Cultural amenity. A council’s auspice ends at the borders, yet a Cultural auspice embraces no barriers of territory or time: it’s of the ages. It is this connection to the depth and breadth of humanity’s moment in the world that has us so needing and cherishing cultural experiences and why separating a Cultural precinct further enhances that experience. Put your good gear on, or go in hang-out casual, and go somewhere special – these feelings are also part of the cultural experience: the readiness and anticipation, not just the performance or exhibition A clever, thoughtful design acknowledges all these things. Imagine seeing the sculptural spire rising tall and inspiringly into a dark night, lit gold, knowing you’ll be going there for your special occasion tomorrow night. Just wondrous stuff.

        The value of being able to build in stages – which Gordon St never offered – is that you have your fiscal safety net. And there is plenty of opportunity to commercialise the precinct: it could more than look after itself. Instead of everything mentioned here, just in touch-upon brevity, you are being sold as fabulous a design which says absolutely NOTHING of “Coffs Harbour” – go visit the building proferred and you could be in Dunny Do. It’s utterly devoid of respect for where we live. Different types of walls, bubbles and a bend in the staircase? For real? That’s our region, is it? That’s what we’re going broke for? That?

        It’s not been said, but it should be. That design being proferred and yahoo-ed fails the critical test of ‘place’. And that is an abject failure of “cultural planning”.

        And the beauty of City Hill, too, is that there is room to fully embrace what “is” culture. The hotchpotch box-ticking that is being sold as a plan just insults the true seeking and embracing of culture. That really is a big discussion – and it can end up being celebrated on City Hill. Along with thoughtful design, that’s the cutting-edge excitement to be discussed and explored. But try to get even a hint of that to those half a dozen most unfortunate people in Council. Imagine, a landmark attraction gone missing because of those few in numbers and capacity. And with an election, those four councillors would be gone. What a moment in the region’s history this is!

  6. Because I am so upset that the council still persists with this colossal waste of our money, even though the majority have demonstrate they are opposed to it, I am refusing to pay my rates until the project is stopped or until the next election where the democratic will of the people can be honoured.

    To this end I am prepared to publicly burn my rates outside the council chambers in the next day or two.

    I would appreciate some publicity to encourage other people to do the same .

    A suffering ratepayer.

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