“We wanted to understand the culture of city in order to bring something innovative to it, both architecturally and functionally – the feature ‘gathering’ space has become a new heart for students, academics and the business community.”

James Wilson, Director of Lyons

NUspace was born from The University of Newcastle’s (UON) vision to bring a new campus into the heart of the city, and with it a whole new world of growth to Newcastle. In order to fulfil this vision, UON took a new path, opening the project to be innovatively realised through a design competition. We responded with a state-of-the-art design that establishes an identity for UON in the heart of the city and supports Newcastle’s cultural and economic growth. ‘New’ came to inform multiple aspects of our design; a new, forward thinking university experience, a new culture for the city and a new and innovative design. The vertical campus is designed to be open and permeable, encouraging a microcosm of activity within that feeds back to the city.

  • Sector

    Education & Learning

  • Key Lyons contacts

    James Wilson
    Ross Heywood

  • Collaborators

    EJE Architecture

  • Client

    University of Newcastle

  • Location

    Hunter St & Auckland St, Newcastle NSW 2300

  • Traditional land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Awabakal people

  • Size

    14,000 square metres

  • Sustainability

    5 star Greenstar As Built

  • Project status

    Complete, 2017


2018 Australian Institute of Architects Awards - NSW Chapter
    • 2018 Australian Institute of Architects, Award for Interior Architecture – NSW Chapter
    • 2018 Australian Institute of Architects, Newcastle Jury Prize – Newcastle Chapter
    • 2018 Australian Institute of Architects, Award for Educational Architecture – Newcastle Chapter
    • 2018 Australian Institute of Architects, Award for Interior Architecture – Newcastle Chapter
    • 2018 Australian Institute of Architects, Award for Urban Design – Newcastle Chapter

“The Lyons / EJE solution embodied our aspirations, and really understood the brief about how we wanted to deliver our teaching and learning to the students, and how we wanted our students to be able to use the building.”

Brian Jones, Program Director, University of Newcastle Organisational Change Team

the city


the Campus

A university for the community

Our design for NUspace is not only an exemplar of a globally connected learning centre, but a catalyst for the regeneration of the physical and cultural heart of Newcastle. To achieve this the building strikes a balance between accommodating and complementing its surrounding precinct and creating a microcosm of activity within its campus. Permeable features invite the community into the building while pedestrian linkages and laneways attract a vibrant and creative environment. Maintaining prominent views to the historic Town Hall was a key part of this civic minded strategy. By protecting views to the Town Hall we deliberately facilitate a corner meeting space with diagonal sitelines through the building. The public nature of the immediate civic precinct introduces exciting possibilities for the way people can engage with its spaces, streets and lanes. At its core, the design creates a seamless public realm that connects the city in all directions.

Establishing an identity for a new city campus

The NUspace campus gives The University of Newcastle an important civic identity. In contrast to the natural bush setting of the Callaghan Campus, our design for NUspace is vibrant and urban while maintaining organic qualities, like sandstone that are familiar to The University of Newcastle. The 9 level vertical campus houses new generation learning spaces, informal social and study seating, accommodation for staff and vibrant public spaces. The project represents a great gathering space in the heart of the city, bringing together city life within a vibrant campus while creating spaces for students and academics to collaborate. The concept of an open university campus is reinforced internally by vertical interconnectivity through the building via escalators, lifts and open stairs. The lower level urban form references and aligns with the adjacent historical buildings, while with an ‘eroded’ canopy of sandstone, the external form is extruded inside in a warm acoustic plywood material.

Flexible spaces for new models of learning

NUspace was designed to facilitate a specific student experience, one that facilitates flexible learning and provides comfort and safety. We designed learning spaces to accommodate a ‘flipped’ classroom experience – a mode of learning that encourages students to review materials online and attend workshops to apply and analyze information. Large flexible working spaces encourage peer to peer learning while light filled, functional and engaging spaces create environments where students want to spend their time. The diverse and flexible spaces such as the three-level learning ‘landscape’ at the ground plane, with cafes, social seating, learning spaces and integrated student ‘concierge’ services, allow students to self-organise and create their own cohort communities. Overhanging the learning terraces in the gathering space, floats the aboriginal Awabakal totem of the eagle-hawk, symbolically protecting the students below. Comfortable furnishing with untethered technology and views over Newcastle can be experienced from all internal spaces, heightening student’s connection to the city.

Key Contacts

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