Coffs Harbour was known as the ‘Banana Coast’, it was the identity of the city and the careers of many. Poor soil management and unsustainable banana farming has depleted the banana economy and most plantations are now gone. We are trying to hang onto this identity in the form of a ‘big’ plastic mould. In 2020 it will be a back to the future scenario, as the commencement of the Coffs Harbour Bypass sees 100's of old growth trees being removed and a city bypassed for the first time. This project seeks opportunity out of this destruction through a very ‘un-plastic’ response to a changing Coffs Harbour. Using the problem to make very clear statements for the city. This project is a means of starting the conversation, showing that we can repair damaged ecology and retain what is left, increasing the community engagement with the city and providing economic potentials for the future.
How this conversation starts is through the idea of planting fast growing plantation timbers along the bypass buffer land. It will rejuvenate and protect the ranges while offering a future timber industry for the city that will start selective harvest in 2050. "A bespoke timber industry is one that has an invested interest in the trees and the building... it much more sustainable... it has much less waste", (Patrick Beale, Lecture, 2020) and Coffs Harbour has the opportunity for this, the conversation just needs to happen.
If we are to intervene with the Coffs Harbour Bypass, then what opportunities may occur from the existing / redundant pacific highway. It runs through the centre of the city from north to south. Using the space existing we can shrink the car lanes to only what is needed for a secondary road, adding bicycle lanes, walking paths, landscaped buffers and using the remaining portions for green space, planting or further public space proposals. "A forest can be an integral part of our urban existence" (Shubdenu Sharoo, Ted, 2018). This intervention will create a bicycle friendly city with bike lanes spanning the 10km south to north of the Coffs city. It will aid in the the opening of Coffs Harbour's catchment systems, helping the water storage issues and increasing the rate of growth around repaired land. It will purify the air and create a greener Coffs Harbour that is not only beneficial to the ecology, but it will rejuvenate and retain the active and healthy community of Coffs Harbour going forward.
As an architectural intervention, when the evidence suggest that "100's and 100's of old growth trees are being removed... and I'm not sure if there is a solid plan in place..." (Kane New, Arborist, 2020), it can cause concern, or, we can use these trees to build needed infrastructure. This proposals examines one possible solution for the use of these trees, building a timber testing, manufacturing and education facility. The planning of this facility is focused on the testing or pedagogical aspects of using timber. It is a design for the preparation 2050 - the selective harvest of the 'plantation trees' along the bypass land. The tectonics of this building are aimed at showing varying species and conversions of timber and an unconventional joinery method to highlight the buildings intrinsic use of testing, building and creating. In its essence, the building is a shed or factory, it's a factory that has no front or back of house, it can safely invite the public inside to learn and witness the timber process. This is one architectural proposal that could be taken many ways, if the ideas of transparency, pedagogy and timber manufacture don't fade, then this facility could be a fundamental precedent for the Australian timber industry.
While testing how we manufacture timber is important to this conversation, if we are to close the loop on the future timber industry then we need test how we plant and growth trees, grasses, shrubs and plants. A soil farm and seedling plantation is proposed as part of the site strategy to offer further testing in the growing aspect of timber. "How we plant trees is improving, so is the publics ideas of plantations..." (Air Seed, 2019), then testing and improving our planting technologies is as, if not more important then testing the actual timber itself.
“Timber Coast” is a dual response to timber production and urban progression. Behind the tree and the product is a rejuvenating biology in Coffs Harbour, an identity of the city and an economy through the re-born timber industry.
If we can 'put up' with with 5-7 years of highway construction... then why can't we persevere to plant, test and grow the city?
Rather than provide a document that contains 'Coffs Harbours Goals for 2050' ... lets offer the community an authentic vision for a 2050 Coffs Harbour. It wont be as easy as it all seems in 'the document', though over this small amount of time we will see the ecology developing, the strength of the community growing and an economy that won't diminish.
There's 29 years remaining, lets go!