The University of Newcastle (UON) has completed its NeW Space-a $95 million education precinct in the heart of Newcastle's CBD.

Designed by Lyons Architecture in collaboration with local practice EJE Architecture, the so-called ‘sticky’ campus has been designed to harness the latest in technology and innovation in teaching and learning to deliver a world-class student experience.

According to James Wilson, Lyons’ director and project lead, one highlight of the building is the way in which it embraces contemporary teaching spaces.

“The design focuses on collaboration and group work, as well as harnessing technology. Standard lecture theatres have been replaced with flexible working spaces and booth seating.”

“Scattered throughout NeW Space are social spaces and facilities for engagement with industry, business and the community,” he says.

The sticky campus label describes a place where a student wants to be; where they feel comfortable and safe - where they belong.

This type of design puts the student at the centre, giving each individual the choice about the type of space they want to occupy.

Key features of the new campus include:

  • 9-storey ‘vertical’ campus designed to provide a world-class, next-generation learning experience and revitalise the heart of Newcastle. 

  • Four ‘urban rooms’ (double height indoor / outdoor student spaces), with views of Nobbys Headland, the Hunter River, Newcastle City Hall and the University’s Callaghan campus. 

  • No conventional lecture theatres or classrooms; there are 21 learning spaces in peer-to-peer learning configurations supporting the ‘flipped’ classroom. 

  • 30 percent of the space is dedicated to student social and study use outside of the teaching spaces, and encourages the ‘sticky’ campus. 

  • Up to 3000 students currently study at the new campus and 320 staff are able to work in the CBD campus.

With flexible learning spaces that provide students with the choice of short or long stay seating options for informal individual and collaborative learning, the design, say the architects, reflects students’ changing needs throughout the year.

One third of the NeW Space campus is dedicated to student social and study use, which say the architects encourages a sense of belonging and a desire amongst students to collaborate and engage with their peers on campus.

The footprint of NeW Space also allows people to enter at ground level and move freely through all nine levels of the building.

Wilson says that “The idea of the campus being open and porous on each level is reinforced by a high level of vertical interconnectivity through the building, facilitated by escalators, lifts and open stairs.”

Informal teaching and learning spaces in peer to peer configurations support the ‘flipped’ classroom model by allowing instructional face to face and online content to be delivered outside the traditional learning environment.

These spaces are threaded throughout each level, all designed with untethered technology and flexible modalities to enable blended learning activities that can connect globally.

Double height balconies enable students to study in light filled interior and outdoor spaces, connecting to fresh air and overlooking expansive views taking in Nobbys Headland and other key local landmarks in Newcastle.

This has been designed to emphasise ‘wellness’ in the vertical campus as well as adding to the outdoor learning opportunities provided on the ground floor green amphitheatre.

The variety of spaces and facilities offered by NeW Space is also attracting local business people and community groups to use the building for meetings and workshops, says Wilson.

“The public nature of the immediate civic precinct introduces exciting possibilities for the way the community can engage with the new building’s spaces, streets and lanes, including a generous ‘campus green’ at ground level that acts as a community interaction area and outdoor learning zone,” he says.