Newcastle Courthouse is open and inviting

This new courthouse balances the civic importance of the courts with an experience that is much less intimidating than in the past

Story by: Trends
Newcastle Courthouse – Cox Architecture building, city, downtown, facade, metropolis, metropolitan area, mixed use, neighbourhood, sky, street, town, white
Newcastle Courthouse – Cox Architecture

Architect: Cox Architecture

About the project: Newcastle Courthouse engages with the city’s main street and Civic Precinct. It aims to help activate the public domain and appear open and inviting, while creating a catalyst that contributes to Newcastle’s rejuvenation. It helps make Hunter Street more interesting, while balancing the expression of the civic importance of the courts with an experience that is much less intimidating than in the past.

The acute triangular shape of the site is derived from a historical train line than used to run up what is now Burwood Street, and the building form expresses and celebrates this angular geometry. The relatively solid podium responds to the scale and solidity of the heritage streetscape along parts of Hunter Street.

A famous quote from Dwight D Eisenhower is that: “Peace and Justice are two sides of the same coin.” Our aim has been to create an environment where a peaceful and positive experience for the general public, both inside and outside the building, is given the highest priority.


The interior features a large, open atrium daylighting, glass, interior design, lobby, real estate, gray
The interior features a large, open atrium

Public seating within the new entry forecourt that opens off Hunter Street and at the end of Burwood Street invites people involved in court cases and the general public to dwell. These spaces become enjoyable places to sit and wait for friends and family or just watch people walk by.

A sense of tranquillity is facilitated through clear circulation systems, comfortable waiting and working environments, and high levels of amenity. Feature timber blades on the façade are configured to separate opposing parties in the public waiting areas, thereby minimising the stress of “unpaid participants” in the legal process.

Low iron glazing, glass lifts and an open central void, combine to maximise the buildings transparency, enhancing intuitive way-finding from the entrance to the Courts above, while dynamically opening up of the typical floor.

The court waiting spaces enjoy controlled solar access and highly desirable harbour views, and typical courtrooms also enjoy daylight and outlook and the opportunity of visual relief. All spaces incorporate natural materials and calming interiors.

Light spills out of the various spaces at apartment, architecture, building, city, commercial building, condominium, corporate headquarters, home, mixed use, property, real estate, residential area, urban design, brown, blue
Light spills out of the various spaces at night

A standard functional requirement in Courthouses is multiple separate lifts and circulation paths to avoid risk of inappropriate interaction between the public, jurors, judges, and those in custody. This has been resolved in a simple and efficient way that avoids complex paths of travel.

Heritage Interpretation elements and Integrated Public Artworks engage the public literally and abstractly in the history of this site. These include artworks inspired by the Swamp Paperbark trees and Aboriginal Middens that were previously common in the area.

High quality materials, finishes and carefully crafted detailing ensure the building achieves long term durability and the potential to age gracefully.

We are honoured to note that the building has been embraced by the local community, and that during the opening ceremony, the previous Attorney General Gabrielle Upton, described the new Courthouse as setting “a new benchmark for court services” in NSW.

Oct 05, 2017
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