Newcastle Port development wins numerous awards

Given the requirement to respect the listed building, the architects could have taken two paths – create a sharp contrast or, as they decided, build apartments that reflect the same period but nonetheless have differences.

So while the ground floor has been converted into loft-style apartments, the top eight floors have been built in a sand-colored brick but in nine different shades, ranging from a light shade to brown.

“The tone is darker at the top,” says Durbach. “We wanted to create a shadowier, more subtle presence.”

Reminiscent of the original curved parapets, the one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments — ranging in size from 55 to 110 square meters — feature curved windows, some convex and others concave.

There are also a series of arched windows and doors and arched walkways on the top level terraces.

“We wanted to frame both Nobby’s Head and the nearby Christ Church Cathedral,” says Durbach.

The conception of the floor plans and the surfaces of the apartments was also carefully orchestrated, using materials that responded to the structure of the building. Hence, inside there are curved island benches clad in wood, hardwood floors, and raw concrete pillars.


Due to their location near the water, each of the apartments has its own outdoor terrace, with one on the third level benefiting from being perched on top of the original building.

While the building’s original facade is relatively intact — particularly the first floor with its steel-framed windows — some careful design moves have been made. This included a new curved oculus in the canopy to allow more light along the sidewalk and a view of the new apartments, as well as reorganizing the original storefronts, now for commercial use.

For Durbach and his team, the Newcastle East End Apartments create a softness in the streetscape when viewed from the cathedral grounds or the streets above. “It feels quite unique, but at the same time familiar in an environment that calls for a lighter touch,” says Durbach.

Given the success of the development, phase 2 of the project is emerging, the design of which will be the result of a competition.

Stephen Crafti specializes in contemporary design, including architecture, furniture, fashion and the decorative arts.

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Brian Lowry

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