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Yarrila Place
Specifications
  • Client
    Coffs Harbour City Council
  • Location
    27 Gordon Street, Coffs Harbour
  • Completion
    May 1, 2021 — December 1, 2022
  • Size
    13859m2
  • Services
    Architecture
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Architecture

Yarrila Place

A new culture and civic space illuminates Coffs Harbour.

Where the mountains meet the sea in northern NSW, a new building knits together community and council to form a special kind of meeting place. This is Yarrila Place – an arts and culture hub for the people of Coffs Harbour.

A design anchored by the landscape

Three natural features anchor the design: the welcoming harbour, a stunning surrounding mountain range and a massive, historic fig tree. These are not just orienting features but meaningful points of reference that resonate for the community as they do for the design of Yarrila.

Yarrila Place is named after a Gumbaynggirr word that means “illuminate, brighten, light up or illustrate”.

The lead architect for this new regional icon is one of its own. Matthew Blair was raised in the town and his deep, nuanced understanding of this place and community brings a personal passion to this project. Colleague Kevin O’Brien connects it with the unique indigenous layers and people local to the area. And the broader team brings the best of BVN’s collective strengths to the landmark building.

An outdoor atrium spans through the centre of the building leading to a new public rooftop garden

A cultural landmark

Yarrila Place sits in the middle of Coffs City Centre, in a coastal valley of the Great Dividing Range. It’s a distinctive structure wrapped in a glazed ceramic skin, proudly announcing its presence and optimism. This 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. Brightly coloured, uniquely shaped and prominently situated, it’s designed to be visible, welcoming, and memorable.

Colourful alcoves define the children's library spaces
A welcoming space

Yarrila hosts public spaces, community facilities and Council services. There’s a dynamic new library split over three levels with dedicated areas for kids, young adults, local history, and private study. On the ground floor sits the new Yarrila Art Museum (YAM) celebrating local stories and creativity as well as the council’s customer service centre. Nearby is a welcoming cafe, adaptable event spaces, and technology resources. There are maker spaces and creative places and a dedicated young adults’ terrace. Plus an open-air rooftop garden with cascading greenery, open to the public.

A spectacular skylight

An internal open-air atrium spans the middle of the building, connecting the ground to the sky, and binding together the people and the energy of Yarrila. 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.

Like Coffs Harbour itself, Yarrila Place will evolve over time, and reflects a philosophy of open minded welcome, creative collaboration and community spirit.

A dramatic new publically bookable space, which also acts as the Council Chamber, looks out over Coffs Creek and the City Centre

Credits

BVN
Matthew Blair, Phillip Rowden, Kevin Murphy, Asher Galvin, Alan Monckton-Milnes, Sally Campbell, Kathy Hansen, Elynda Naru, Mateusz Sum, Laurie Aznavoorian, Kate Field, Jonathan Capparelli, Tim Crawshaw, Jaime Gonzalez, Liam Croft, Jessica Smith, Kevin O'Brien, Andrew Le
Consultants

Philip Chun & Associates, Philip Chun BC NSW Pty Ltd, Urbis Pty Ltd

Consultants

Philip Chun & Associates, Philip Chun BC NSW Pty Ltd, Urbis Pty Ltd

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