Bold port frontage design for cultural hub

“MEET you at the steps” could soon be a phrase heard around Sale when the new cultural hub is open.

As revealed in a concept plan, the Port of Sale Cultural Hub is set to have entry from amphitheatre-style steps facing the Port of Sale.

Following community consultation and work with a steering group, Wellington Shire Council this week adopted the plan for the $10.7 million facility, which will combine the Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale library and community meeting areas. The plan also includes a cafe and provision of free WiFi.

The design includes a new entry to the building from the Port of Sale which incorporates a new fully accessible lift and an amphitheatre-style staircase leading up to the main library and art gallery floor. The staircase has been designed to involve demolishing an existing structurally flawed concrete floor.

The new amphitheatre stairs could be used as a gathering space, lecture space, informal seating and meeting area.

The hub will replace the Port of Sale Civic Centre on Foster St, currently home to the gallery and council administration.

The new library will be twice the size of the current facility, which is located at Sale College’s Macalister campus. Wellington Shire Libraries headquarters will be in the same building.

The current art gallery, has insufficient space, a lack of accessibility and poor climate control.

The new gallery will be more than double the current size, allowing for expanded programs and exhibitions.

The cultural hub precinct is expected to generate visitors, particularly through the art gallery expansion with annual visits predicted to rise from 18,000 to 40,000 people, based on the findings of a 2012 feasibility study.

Council will this year move its administration to a building on the corner of Desailly and Foster Sts.

Council chambers will be in the cultural hub.

As construction of the new administration building in Desailly St was nearly complete before council purchased it, there was insufficient space for the council chamber.

The council’s financial contribution is dependent on an application for $1.5 million in federal government funding. If federal funding is secured, council will provide $2.95 million, without it, the figure goes up to $4.45 million.

The state government has already provided $4.45 million, while a total of $1.5 million will come from benefactor John Leslie.

Council’s capital expenditure budget for 2014-15 has $8 million approved for the project from council, state government and Mr Leslie.

Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley said the cultural hub would be a strong economic development project for the region, creating 24 construction jobs, with local suppliers and materials to be used.

Consultation with the steering group and community stakeholders indicated a number of desired aspects were missing from the original concept.

It was also found existing services in the Port of Sale building, such as the lift, fire protection and air handling systems, were unsuitable for reuse.

“The adopted concept designs will energise the Port of Sale, they meet the community’s expectations based on the information we’ve gathered from the consultation and will really enhance the experience for locals and visitors alike, making it a focal point and destination for the community,” Cr Crossley said.