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September 18, 2023

Yarrila Place opens its doors

BVN Designs Yarrila Place, a New Landmark for the Coffs Coast That Celebrates Culture, Community and Connection

For the last year, a emerald form has been taking shape in the heart of Coffs Harbour’s CBD. Housing a state-of-the-art Museum, Art Gallery, Library and council services, Yarrila Place opened to the public on Saturday, 16 September, announcing its presence with brightly coloured optimism.

Built on the lands of the Gumbaynggirr People, our design for the building has created an recognisable landmark, serving as a thriving community hub and a leading regional tourist destination.

An internal open-air atrium spans the middle of the building, connecting the ground to the sky. Reflecting the curvature of the giant fig tree nearby, a continuous track takes visitors up through each of the three floors reaching the rooftop terrace which sits in the tree’s canopy.

The dynamic new library split over three levels includes dedicated areas for kids, young adults, local history, and private study. On the ground floor is The Museum and Gallery — collectively known as Yarrila Arts and Museum (YAM), which will enable Coffs Coast to play host to national quality curated exhibitions usually confined to capital cities. In addition to a rotating calendar of exhibitions, locals and visitors can attend workshops and events, appreciate public installations by local artists or soak up the sun on the rooftop gardens.

Opening day of Yarrila Place

In addition to being the NSW mid-North Coast’s foremost museum, art gallery, library, technology centre and events space, Yarrila Place also includes the City of Coffs Harbour’s customer service points and Council Chamber, vital to the City’s delivery of community and essential services.

BVN’s lead architect for this new regional icon brings a unique local perspective to the project. Having grown up in Coffs Harbour himself, Matthew Blair brings a nuanced understanding of place and community and a deeply personal passion to the project. In fact, the initial plan for the development of a world-class cultural centre in Coffs Harbour was an inspiration for Matthew to pursue a career as an architect.

“Having grown up within the vibrant Coffs Harbour community and knowing the history of this project, I understand the impact that these facilities can have on our locale,” says BVN Principal, Matthew Blair. “Like Coffs Harbour itself, Yarrila Place will evolve over time, and is imbued with a philosophy of open-minded welcome, creative collaboration and community optimism” he adds.

BVN Principal and lead architect, Matthew Blair

Yarrila Place is named after a Gumbaynggirr word meaning “illuminate, brighten, light up or illustrate” and the Yarrila Place opening ceremony emphasised one of the key values of the community centre: “All Welcome”. Yarrila represents an evolving human landscape and diverse multicultural communities, while acknowledging the ancient and ongoing spiritual and cultural influence of the Gumbanyniggirr people.

Matthew pictured with Australian artist, Emma Coulter (left), and Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese (top right)

The Coffs Coast is one of regional NSW's most rapidly developing and dynamic areas. Coffs Harbour has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2008. Yarilla is a place for every cultural thread of Coffs Harbour, including the diverse range of indigenous and migrant communities. This blend is woven into the very fabric of the building – the result of many conversations and ideas explored in collaboration with local communities.

Yarilla Place is essential to accommodate Coffs Harbour’s rapid cultural and economic growth, providing the facilities to become a hub for lifelong learning, creativity, commerce and community.

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