Giidany Miirlarl Education Space

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Giidany Miirlarl is an important site for the Gumbayngirr Nation on the Coffs Coast.

Known by its Gumbayngirr name Giidany Miirlarl, the interpretive timber structure at the base of Muttonbird Island, designed by Fisher Design + Architecture & Mackenzie Pronk Architects in association, provides a dynamic public place that encourages an understanding of the cultural and environmental history of the site and provides a location for social interaction, storytelling, learning and rest.

Stories about the island are told in the informal amphitheatre area, and have been interpreted in a linear information panel on the rising timber ramp. A 3m high timber screen provides a canvas for a large incised artwork commissioned from local artist Shane Phillips. A second artwork, by artist Janelle Marshall, is set into the centre of the floor of the amphitheatre.

Commissioned by Arts Mid North Coast, National Parks and Wildlife, and Coffs Harbour City Council, the robust and elegant structure provides a public space that encourages an understanding of the cultural and environmental history of the site, and provides a place for social interaction, storytelling, learning and rest.

Architect: Fisher Design + Architecture; MacKenzie Pronk Architects

Client: Arts Mid North Coast; National Parks and Wildlife; Coffs Harbour City Council

Artwork: Shane Phillips; Janelle Marshall


The structure incorporates an outdoor education and performance amphitheatre, enveloped by a curved steel framed timber entry ramp to the island and a 3m high high timber screen that provides a canvas for a large incised artwork.

Timber was chosen as the main material for its natural textural qualities, its ability to be worked and inscribed with the chosen artwork and its robust character in this highly exposed marine location.

A variety of timber types and species were used to suit each element of the design. The main timber screen wall is locally harvested and naturally seasoned bloodwood. The decking is comprised of dressed, all round mixed hardwood planks, cut to the required radial geometry.

It was envisaged that the interpretive structure will serve several functions, and possess a simple elemental geometry to minimise impact on the site while reflecting and enhancing its significance.

A 3m high timber screen follows the curved timber entry ramp to the island, and provides a canvas for a large incised artwork commissioned from local artist Shane Phillips.

The decking comprises dressed all round (DAR) mixed hardwood planks, cut to the required radial geometry. The main timber screen wall is locally harvested and naturally seasoned bloodwood. The vertical timbers are rough-sawn and intentionally left unfinished to grey off.

Large recycled ironbark bridge timbers were sourced locally by National Parks and Wildlife - the timbers were lightly dressed and treated to be suitable as seats, low edges and steps.

The simple geometry echoes the simple form of the island. The ramped access integrates seamlessly into the island's existing pathways. The natural tones of the building materials palette are sympathetic to the colours of the island.

The Giidany Miirlarl Education Space provides a dynamic public space that encourages an understanding of the cultural and environmental history of the site, and provides a place for social interaction, storytelling, learning and rest.

Stories about the island will be told in the amphitheatre area, and have been interpreted in a linear information panel on the rising timber ramp, the large artwork incised on the timber screen and a second artwork by artist Janelle Marshall, which is set into the centre of the amphitheatre.

An old ironbark timber bridgehead stock is an intriguing sculptural seating element located at the head of the entry path. The naturally weathering texture and tone of the timber allows the strong robust structure to sit comfortably at the base of the island.

Timbers used in this case study:

Structure

Framing: 

Hot dipped galvanised steel, mixed KD hardwoods, bloodwood

Poles Beams: 

Hot dipped galvanised steel, mixed KD hardwoods, bloodwood

 

Shear Walls: 

In situ concrete  natural grey concrete slab and piers

 

Interior

Flooring: 

Concrete with light wash finish

 

Internal Paneling: 

Mixed KD hardwood- bloodwood

 

Interior Rails Balustrades: 

Hot dipped galvanized steel balustrade with KD bloodwood handrail

 

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