Coaltown Museum


Buller District Council



Completion Date


  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
This project realises a vital piece of urban fabric for Westport.

As an integral part of the Buller Vision 2010 – a political/community urban renewal initiative within Westport to redevelop the many of the town’s facilities.

The brief for Coaltown involved the remodel of this iconic museum into a central site as a civic hub that improved the level of information and services provided to visitors. Other civic facilities included within the Coaltown precinct are: library, i-site visitor centre, gallery, toilets, café – and a community meeting and function rooms.

Many environmentally sustainable principles were evaluated in the early design stages to ensure a more considered building was established on the site – and to furthermore achieve low operating and on-going life-cycle management costs. The result is an engaging building that is practical, memorable and environmentally considered. Consideration was also been given to improving traffic design and car-parking/drop-off zones for the complex in order to allow this building to seamlessly merge into its wider townscape environment.

The exterior façade under a soaring canopy is a transparent veil of timber and glass that provides intriguing glimpses into the dynamic pavilion within. This language looks to invite patrons in and subsequently explore and engage. By night, this veil then becomes a glowing display in itself illuminated with strategically placed lighting that not only showcases this building but pays homage to the historically significant buildings adjacent.

A key component of the interior design solution was that enough space was provided to accommodate large amounts of visitors, with the flexibility to easily and seamlessly manage seasonal fluctuations. New interactive displays work hand in hand with more traditional informative components, allowing the visitor to tailor their particular information requirements, whilst allowing staff to provide enhanced levels of service and information on a one-to-one basis when required.

This project realises a vital piece of urban fabric for Westport and is quickly establishing itself as an iconic showpiece on a high profile site. Set to become a destination for both the wider Buller community and tourist visitors to the district, Coaltown will enable Westport to communicate the richness of its local events, activities and many attractions.