To a Higher Court

Newcastle courthouse now stands as one of the most notable buildings in Newcastle, an iconic and welcoming facility that meets the client brief of connection with the community.” ~ TTW structural engineers.

Welcoming… in a jaggedly immense sort of way.

Our new Civic courthouse is an impressive structure adding class to a still bedraggled CBD. Close up at ground level is a visual and textural treat, and inside is where it truly shines.

Like or not the severe cutting bow and harsh angular expression, the architects and engineers earn praise for squeezing a demanding structural foot into a tight property shoe. The “Burwood Wedge” similarly challenged their predecessors.

What’s in this seven storey 12,000 square metre $90 million courthouse?

Twelve courtrooms, including five for jury trials and two tribunal rooms for District or Supreme Court hearings, interview rooms, Sheriff’s office, judicial chambers, 14 holding cells, and spacious waiting areas with harbour views.

Newcastle Courthouse integrates generous natural-lit spaces, public art, timbered interiors, solar panels (190), eight lift shafts, acoustic panelling, and a glass atrium roof.

What’s outside? The facade is “Prodema (orange) and Alpolic (grey) sheeting, lots of glass, and glass-reinforced decorative concrete.

Here is a resource list for a comprehensive take of this high-profile civic project.

This view – that hides the Burwood Street face – surreally exaggerates harsh angluar protrusions of the design. Not helped by anti-keystoning the wide-angle ground-level photograph :0)

The final product, in context…

Below, covers are coming off. It’s May, 2015, two years into construction.

7am on 20th May 2015.
Southward on Darby St at left, westward on Hunter St at right

Mid-left, the crane in Burwood St. Right, westward in Hunter St

Darby St intersection facing west in Hunter St. Telstra building centre.

Hunter St facing east near Auckland St intersection

Panorama 9 May 2014. Telstra at left, corner of Hunter and Darby Streets (hmm, wonder when they’ll finish the Telstra building :0)

Hunter Street facing west 2pm 9 May 2014

June 2013 ~ the morning glorious, the court house a collection of re-purposed shipping containers ringed by rent-a-fence

A lift for Hugh Laurie’s heavy frown

Court house – ground, one, & two poured..

Above, the crane dwarfs the ATO, Telstra, and Council towers, and stretches beyond the north side of Hunter Street.

Below, a sinkhole appeared when a truck disturbed the surface and the Clarenden Hotel footings were discovered protruding 1 metre into the site. Grouting the old mines cost nearly $3 million and delayed the project by 5 months.

August 2012 the rent-a-fence appears and concrete pours to stabilise the site. Australian Tax Office rear left, Clarendon pub at right.

From Civic Park towards Hunter Street. Council admin at left, ATO right

Burwood & Hunter streets ~ architectural nemesis

Burwood Street seems to be an accident, like much of a city grown from coal mines, smelters, brickworks, and their railway lines. The Burwood rail line connected The Junction (named we assume from the junction of at least five separate rail lines) to Newcastle coal wharves. As the photographs below show, they went where they must and the city grew all around.

These links give more of the story:

Glovers Lane in Cooks Hill was created from the former Burwood rail line to Newcastle Harbour which went underneath a bridge on Laman Street, down Burwood Street and the ‘Burwood Triangle’ where the former Frederick Ash building stood until recently, and on to the port for the loading of coal for export.

University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

Below: Burwood Street from Hunter Street in 1940. Fifteen years later little had changed; the author recalls similar events as a child around 1955. As a young adult he recalls visiting shops in Burwood St, such as the famous Woodey’s Disposals.

The Burwood Hotel (behind the tram) shows the triangular shape imposed on buildings occupying that corner, where the Newcastle Courlhouse now resides.

Image by kind permission: Ralph Snowball, Norm Barney Photographic Collection, the University of Newcastle.

Below: Northumberland Building and Investment Society circa 1887

Image by kind permission: Ralph Snowball, Norm Barney Photographic Collection, the University of Newcastle.

Below: The Northumberland Building Society (behind the coal miners’ Arc de Triomphe) had an imposing Hunter St presence – but around the corner the bluff is revealed.

Image by kind permission: Ralph Snowball, Norm Barney Photographic Collection, the University of Newcastle.



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