Shellharbour Civic Center – Public Domain


The public domain creates a new meeting place in Shellharbour city centre giving the city centre an iconic heart that the community can be proud of. A green, welcoming hub that is soft, informal and offers a place of both activity and respite.

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Image: Sandor Duzs Photography
Image: Sandor Duzs Photography
Image: Sandor Duzs Photography
Image: Sandor Duzs Photography
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  • The Shellharbour City Hub outlined some key requirements for the new City Hub: • A Civic and Cultural heart that reflects the community identity • a place of significance, recognition, identity and pride • Creates a sense of place, where all people in the community can be comfortable gathering and interacting with others, or enjoy quiet and solitude • A Community Living Room for entertainment and relaxation, to experience history, local culture and arts, to play and create, to connect and communicate, be informed and educated

  • Challenging the norm of what an urban ‘civic square’ should look or feel like, the Civic Square features a generously proportioned central green; a versatile space that is equally appropriate for active play, large community events, and small group gatherings under the shade. This decision to create a ‘park-square’ was driven by the community aspiration for a place that is green and relaxed, as opposed to formal and urban.

  • Environmental: A series of vegetated swales down steep embankments delivered improvements to the city’ stormwater infrastructure bolstering native landscape biodiversity and canopy cover. Social: Shellharbour City Council’s Library Manager, Margie Kirkness “It’s great that we’ve been able to activate the Civic Square with various activities, including a ‘story trail’ for families, youth markets, and events such as ‘Arty Party’ and ‘The Big Draw’. Commercial: “Close to 1000 people flocked to the centre on its first day of operation, and they weren’t disappointed with the interactive entry plaza or the colourful, open-plan interior.” Illawarra Mercury

  • Fluid forms of informal seating frame the central green, while a meandering creekline provides a cooling, sensory transition between inside and out. The creekline references the story of water in the Illawarra escarpment, enriched by our collaboration with artist Kim Williams. ‘Aquifer’ symbolises the emergence and disappearance of water in a dry landscape. When the community experiences times of water scarcity, the creekline dries in wait for rain. Thus the creekline and art become a reference for wider issues of sustainability and responsible use of water resources. Weaving Pods by artists Uncle Steven Russell and Kristine Stewart uses woven work to create designs on concrete seating elements along the creekline. The patterns reflect the movement of Aboriginal people through the coastal landscape, the coastline as habitat and the coming together of communities.