The Cultural & Civic Space - for the Heart of Coffs

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The image is an artist's impression of the rooftop terrace, which is located on level 3 of the new building. On the right hand side of the image is the multi-purpose space, which will operate as a community function and event space as well as the Council Chambers one evening a fortnight. On the left hand side of the image is access to the council offices.

What is it? The Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space (CCS project) will combine arts, people, technology and culture to create a vibrant community hub designed to transform our library, museum and gallery into spaces more suited to the Coffs Harbour region's growing role as regional city and tourist destination.

The new building will bring council administration together in one building, including customer service, council chambers and administration offices. There will also be a cafe and bookable community meeting and working spaces.

Why do we need it? In the new building our library, museum and gallery will have 2.5 to 3 times the space they currently have, with shared spaces and the opportunity to collaborate. The current Harry Bailey Memorial Library is only 40% of the size recommended by the State Library. This means our community does not have access to enough computers, study spaces, meeting rooms, quiet spaces, resources and books.

Our new library will meet State Library guidelines, providing access to books, magazines, personal computers and free wi-fi, as well as a digital media studio, a maker space, a place for young adults to study, play and hang out, and meeting and study rooms for the general public.

The Cultural and Civic Space will also bring together the administration, customer service and decision-making functions of council into a single building to access the benefits of co-locating civic and cultural services.

What are the benefits?

Our new cultural facilities will be for people of all ages and backgrounds and will help to make sure there is equitable access to safe, inclusive public spaces as well as educational and technological resources for Coffs Harbour residents.

Better cultural facilities will attract national quality exhibitions, workshops and events to Coffs Harbour that our current facilities cannot support due to lack of space and facilities. This is exciting news for both the residents of Coffs Harbour and for the people who visit our beautiful city, providing more things to do, see and experience.

The new building will bring our city to life, with studies showing that well-designed cultural facilities such as libraries, museums and art galleries contribute to regional growth by increasing the attractiveness and liveability of an area, as well as supporting business investment in the surrounding areas. When cultural and civic facilities are placed together in a city's central location, they not only activate each other, they breathe life into the whole area.

The construction phase (2021-2023) is expected to generate around 555 direct and flow on jobs including 358 local jobs, injecting $33.3 million dollars into the local economy. When in operation, the new building is expected to generate around $1.8 million per year in increased tourism.

Where is it? The Cultural and Civic Space will be located right in the heart of Coffs Harbour, on Gordon Street, in easy reach of public transport and just minutes’ walk from CBD parking.

What’s happening with the project? Late last year, the development application for the CCS project was approved by the State Government, and the demolition of Gordon Street site was completed.

The project team has spent most of 2020 working on the detailed design for the building, elaborating and expanding the schematic design completed in 2019. Detailed design up until 80% has now been completed, with the final 20% to be completed during construction.

As part of this process, Lipman, the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) builder, who have been assisting the project team with buildability and pricing advice, have submitted their construction offer, which is currently being validated by key members of the project team. Council expects to consider Lipman’s offer in early 2021.

Why are we so excited? This project is an important piece of the puzzle for Coffs Harbour: a major regional infrastructure project at the right time and in the right place. The project represents a place for the community to come together, connecting our past, present and future in a way that supports the growth and progress of our beautiful city and surrounding areas.

Need more information?

What is it? The Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space (CCS project) will combine arts, people, technology and culture to create a vibrant community hub designed to transform our library, museum and gallery into spaces more suited to the Coffs Harbour region's growing role as regional city and tourist destination.

The new building will bring council administration together in one building, including customer service, council chambers and administration offices. There will also be a cafe and bookable community meeting and working spaces.

Why do we need it? In the new building our library, museum and gallery will have 2.5 to 3 times the space they currently have, with shared spaces and the opportunity to collaborate. The current Harry Bailey Memorial Library is only 40% of the size recommended by the State Library. This means our community does not have access to enough computers, study spaces, meeting rooms, quiet spaces, resources and books.

Our new library will meet State Library guidelines, providing access to books, magazines, personal computers and free wi-fi, as well as a digital media studio, a maker space, a place for young adults to study, play and hang out, and meeting and study rooms for the general public.

The Cultural and Civic Space will also bring together the administration, customer service and decision-making functions of council into a single building to access the benefits of co-locating civic and cultural services.

What are the benefits?

Our new cultural facilities will be for people of all ages and backgrounds and will help to make sure there is equitable access to safe, inclusive public spaces as well as educational and technological resources for Coffs Harbour residents.

Better cultural facilities will attract national quality exhibitions, workshops and events to Coffs Harbour that our current facilities cannot support due to lack of space and facilities. This is exciting news for both the residents of Coffs Harbour and for the people who visit our beautiful city, providing more things to do, see and experience.

The new building will bring our city to life, with studies showing that well-designed cultural facilities such as libraries, museums and art galleries contribute to regional growth by increasing the attractiveness and liveability of an area, as well as supporting business investment in the surrounding areas. When cultural and civic facilities are placed together in a city's central location, they not only activate each other, they breathe life into the whole area.

The construction phase (2021-2023) is expected to generate around 555 direct and flow on jobs including 358 local jobs, injecting $33.3 million dollars into the local economy. When in operation, the new building is expected to generate around $1.8 million per year in increased tourism.

Where is it? The Cultural and Civic Space will be located right in the heart of Coffs Harbour, on Gordon Street, in easy reach of public transport and just minutes’ walk from CBD parking.

What’s happening with the project? Late last year, the development application for the CCS project was approved by the State Government, and the demolition of Gordon Street site was completed.

The project team has spent most of 2020 working on the detailed design for the building, elaborating and expanding the schematic design completed in 2019. Detailed design up until 80% has now been completed, with the final 20% to be completed during construction.

As part of this process, Lipman, the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) builder, who have been assisting the project team with buildability and pricing advice, have submitted their construction offer, which is currently being validated by key members of the project team. Council expects to consider Lipman’s offer in early 2021.

Why are we so excited? This project is an important piece of the puzzle for Coffs Harbour: a major regional infrastructure project at the right time and in the right place. The project represents a place for the community to come together, connecting our past, present and future in a way that supports the growth and progress of our beautiful city and surrounding areas.

Need more information?

  • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: FOR GM21/01 CONTRACT NO. RFT-1356-TI – CULTURAL AND CIVIC SPACE – DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES

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    Cost
    The CCS Project budget was previously set at $76.52m total project cost in June 2018. The project budget total end cost is now $81.27m ($4.75m / 6.2% increase) following 2.5 years of design development and subsequent lump sum offer by Lipman. The main contributor to the increased project cost is the greater than expected escalation in construction costs over the past two and a half years. The total end cost for CCS includes design and consultancy costs to-date, completion of the design, construction, construction contingency and demolition.

    To compare CCS Project costs with other developments, many factors must be catered for to make apples for apples comparisons:

    1. When in the project cycle was the cost measured? Perhaps at the end of the project or perhaps earlier estimates.
    2. How long ago was the cost measured? Construction costs escalate over time, sometimes in excess of CPI, so a cost measure from say 5 years ago would need significant escalation to compare to today (in the order of 15% to 20%).
    3. What is being included in the ‘cost’? Sometimes the total project cost, sometimes just construction, construction plus contingency, and potentially many other variations.
    4. How closely does the scope and quality of another project compare?

    Cost per square metre
    Based on total project cost (see Cost), the cost per square metre for the CCS development is approximately $5,875 ($81.27m and 13,835 square meters). The CCS development is approximately $5,100 per square meter for “construction cost” which includes builder and trade costs plus construction contingency held by Council.

    Who will do what during the construction period?
    During 2019 and 2020 the design work was led by BVN Architecture who developed the design to the 80% point. The proposed construction period for the CCS Project has two major parts – completion of the final 20% of design and the construction, hence the Design & Construct (D&C) contractual arrangement proposed for delivery of the building.

    To ensure that the valuable knowledge held by BVN and their design team is not lost as the builder delivers the building, BVN and the design team will be contracted to the builder for the whole construction period. The builder, BVN and the design team will finalise the design with Council input and Council retains a design decision role. The builder delivers the building in accordance with the agreed design. These arrangements are included in the total project end cost of $81.27m.

    How will costs be managed during the construction period?
    The Design & Construct (D&C) contract proposed sets a lump sum cost for the final 20% of design and the building works.

    While the last 20% of design is still to be done, the D&C lump sum offer will cover the final design work itself and delivery of the building to meet the design.

    While the builder is to be contracted to deliver the building for their stated lump sum price, there are some situations whereby additional cost could be incurred by the builder that Council would have to pay for, called variations. The main two types of variations are issues found in the ground while establishing the basement and building footings (ground conditions) and design changes that Council requests (client variations). Part of the $81.27m is an allocation of Council controlled construction contingency funds in case variations arise, however significant work has already been undertaken to minimise variations including:

    • Ground conditions – Over the last three years, geotechnical assessments have been done with ground samples being taken throughout the site as well as surveying of pipes and cables. These assessments have guided the structural design, however, until the excavation and footings are completed, no one can guarantee that there will be no unexpected issues.
    • Client variations – Significant effort and consultant fees have been invested over the last three years to get the design right, however experience across the construction sector tells us that sometimes our needs change over time and some of those changes may best be dealt with during construction.

    Should variations be proposed, there is a structured process defined under the proposed D&C contract for variation proposals to be justified, appropriately assessed for validity and cost, then, if Council and the builder agree, implemented.

  • The Cultural and Civic Space project timeline

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    PROJECT TIMELINE

    In 2016 Council unanimously endorsed the Gordon Street site as the preferred location for the new library and gallery and resolved to undertake a detailed precinct analysis, consider the inclusion of the regional museum and to investigate mixed and civic uses for this site in order maximise the location.

    In 2017 Council endorsed Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan and the Precinct Analysis to progress through to the concept design phase. At this stage, the Council offices were included in the scope.

    Between December 2017 and March 2018, a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement consultation and information campaign asked stakeholders for feedback on three separate concept designs.

    At the June 2018 Council Meeting the report detailing the Concept Business Case and outcome of the community engagement on the three concept designs - to identify key features that people wanted incorporated in the new building - was endorsed to progress to the next stage; a single schematic design. At this point, the Regional Museum was also included in the project.

    In early 2019, broad community engagement was undertaken on the preliminary schematic design created by BVN Architecture.

    The outcomes of the consultation were incorporated into the final schematic design report which was presented to Council in July 2019.

    The 25 July Council Meeting was adjourned until 8 August 2019.

    At the 8 August Council Meeting the Councillors resolved to proceed with the Cultural and Civic Space Project by: 1. Allocating full project funding of $76.52 million, 2. Lodging a development application, 3. Disposing of the nominated properties 4. Procuring the build through a two stage design and construct contract.

    At the 13 February Council Meeting, the Councillors approved the tenders for Project Manager, Head Design Consultant and Cost Manager. The demolition DA for 23-31 Gordon Street was also approved.

    As a result of this decision, and the appointment of these key contracts, the detailed design phase of the Cultural and Civic Space project officially began.

    On 30 November 2020, the NSW Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, approved the Development Application (DA) for the new Cultural and Civic Space.

  • Cultural and Civic Space State Significant Development Application approved

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    Coffs Harbour City Council can now confirm the NSW Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, has approved the Development Application (DA) for the new Cultural and Civic Space. For more information go here.

  • Quick chat with Jane Tavener

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    For those who don’t know you, could you tell me a little bit about yourself?

    Since March 2020 I’ve been the acting General Manager as well as the Social Enterprise Coordinator for Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance, which also includes its commercial arm, the National Aboriginal Design Agency. I love the simple life with my family around me and lots of peace and quiet, but I keep getting involved in big creative projects! Last year I created Botanica as a fundraising event for my Heart and Soul Foundation, which was one of the best things I’ve ever made – apart from my daughters!

    What are you passionate about – what gets you out of bed in the morning?

    I love working and making a difference in the community, particularly the arts and cultural community. I feel incredibly lucky with the work I’m currently doing, where I get to work with creative people in projects that support our Aboriginal communities, and also vulnerable women in our community through the Heart and Soul Foundation projects. I am passionate about supporting the development of the Coffs Coast as a hub for really great, innovative and creative events.

    What do you think is the value of supporting cultural and arts development in a place like Coffs Harbour?

    Our area has an incredibly beautiful natural environment – people already want to come here, and culture and arts add value to that experience. If Coffs Harbour becomes an amazing creative hub, it will draw different kinds of people to attend our awesome film festivals or arts events. There is great value in supporting a really valuable industry which generates a lot of money in Australia, as well as nourishing our local Gumbaynggirr culture and artists. I think lockdown showed how important the arts are to all of us, with powerful positive effects on our health and wellbeing, as well as opportunities for business and tourism.

    What would you say to the people who are worried about the project?

    Right now, we don’t know what we don’t have. We have the cultural facilities that we have, and they’ve done really well considering their limitations, but it’s hard for the community to imagine the world class facilities we will have with this new purpose built facility. If you don’t know where Italy is you can never go there. We don’t really know where Italy is at the moment. I understand that people are worried about their rates and other issues, but I would like people to be open minded and let this be something incredibly wonderful for us.

    What excites you about the Cultural and Civic Space project?

    People have moved out of Coffs to live in other areas which have more arts and cultural opportunities, and this is our chance to have these kinds of opportunities right here, right now. There are a lot of people focusing on the regions now because of the pandemic – how exciting for us that Coffs is creating a really vibrant and creative arts community at this time

  • Cultural and Civic Space gives the community a rooftop oasis

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    This is a rooftop oasis which will allow everyone to enjoy our beautiful natural Coffs environment.

    The doors of the multipurpose room will open onto the rooftop garden with community members being able to spill out to enjoy the view.

    Once every two weeks, the room will be transformed for Thursday night Council meetings. Unlike the existing Council Chamber, which usually sits unused in between meetings, this room will be mostly a community event space,

    Click here to read more: https://www.news.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/2020/11/16/cultural-and-civic-space-gives-the-community-a-rooftop-oasis/

  • Community curators to uncover Coffs Harbour's hidden histories

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    Thanks to a $72,300 grant for the Regional Museum announced today by the NSW Government’s Minister for the Arts, Coffs Harbour’s ‘hidden’ histories can be uncovered and given their rightful place in the story of our local heritage.

    For more information, read the whole article here

    Article image from the Stories to Freedom exhibition by And the Trees Photography.

  • Q&A with Kerry Grace

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    For those people who don’t know you, tell me a little bit about yourself.

    My name is Kerry Grace, I’m a 7th generation Mid-North coast resident, and I’m the CEO of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast and Evolve Group Network.

    What are you passionate about?

    I’m passionate about everyday leaders and empowering them to implement their community-led solutions. In my experience, people who live in a community know what needs to happen and they know what works and what doesn’t. I believe change should be implemented from the ground up rather than from the top down.

    What is the potential for a project like this to benefit Coffs Harbour in particular and more widely the Coffs Coast?

    Art and cultural are central to the economic viability of any community offering unique experiences to our visitors and engaging attractions for our locals. The value of creative industries is often under-estimated in regional Australia. In the Mid North Coast the sector contributes an estimated $29.7M to the economy (Source ABS) and employs 1,270 people. This does not incorporate the additional revenue and jobs created in ancillary industries such as hospitality and accommodation which also benefit via creative industries.

    What do you think is the particular value of cultural development in a place like the mid-north coast?

    When I grew up in a small community in the Mid North Coast the only currency was sport. And for the kids that weren’t really into sport there wasn’t a lot of choice. The development of game-changing amenities such as the one proposed by Coffs Harbour City Council really places creative industries front and centre. It sends a message that we are a sophisticated, forward thinking and inclusive region.

    What excites you about this project?

    I’m particularly excited for young people because it enables them to aspire to something greater. It shows them that people in charge are thinking about the future and not stuck in the past.

    What would you say to the people who are worried about this project?

    I’d say to them: as I travel around regional communities and ask them what makes their community unique, what they often tell me is exactly the same as what their neighbours offer: our natural beauty: beautiful beaches, hinterland and creeks. There is no doubt this is lovely, however to stand out we really need something that is actually unique, something offered via the creative industries. The leadership Coffs Harbour City Council has shown in this project makes me proud to live on the Coffs Coast. To me, this project embodies the vibrancy of the Coffs Harbour community.

  • Take a look inside our new building!

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    The first illustrations of the Cultural and Civic Space have been released, giving us a glimpse inside the current design for the new building,

    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.

    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.

    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.

    For more information, see the media release on the Council newsroom website

  • Museums tell our stories and hold our histories

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    What is the role of a museum? The traditional role of museums is to collect objects and materials of cultural, religious and historical importance, preserve them, research them and present them to the public for the purpose of education and enjoyment.

    Whether they are national or local in focus, museums cherish the stories important to a community. Some of those stories are well known and some of them might be hidden and need to be brought to the surface. When a community knows its own stories - not just the whitewashed version but the warts and all kind, - we develop a deeper appreciation of our place and who we are as a result of our experiences as a community.

    A good museum tells engaging stories and narratives that capture our interest and imagination, taps into our emotions and prompt us to think more deeply and ask questions about the past, present and future of our region. For example, why do we have refugees in Coffs? How are we protecting our natural environment? What kind of innovations are going on in food production?

    How have museums changed? Banish the idea of fusty, dusty old museums which focus more on objects rather than stories. Museums are still institutions which collect and safeguard artefacts, but they now use multimedia technology such as touchscreens and touch tables, as well as film and audio to engage visitors in meaningful and interesting ways.

    Museums have become more hands on as well, with many providing opportunities for interactive activities. The new museum will host an interactive space where visitors of all ages can sign up for a workshop and learn valuable new skills such as how to look after their family photos and collections, how to handle historical objects and much more.

    What can we look forward to in our new museum? Our new museum will be contemporary, highly visual and will showcase many more of the fascinating items in the museum’s collections, including historical artefacts, photographs and multi-media resources. Visitors will be engaged, surprised and energised by what they experience.

    Our new museum will be a one-of-a-kind visitor experience, not only for Coffs Harbour locals, who will feel proud of our histories and stories on display, but for visitors to the area who will be drawn to the unique cultural destination as part of their stay on the beautiful Coffs Coast.

    Image by: and the trees photography

  • August newsletter

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    Hi all,

    August has flown by and it’s been another busy month for our design team with the look and feel of our new building taking shape. We’re busily plotting a fun way to give our community a sneak peek inside the walls so you can see where we are up to - stay tuned!