“What a great two changes to happen to Newcastle at the same time! The university building moving into town, let’s call this the high-brow. And the V8 super car event, let’s call this more mainstream”.

Barney Collins, Director with EJE Architects, has positioned us in a break out area on the ground floor of one of Newcastle’s leading architectural firms. The photographer asks if we can get Mr Collins in his office to get a sense of the man behind some of Newcastle’s landmark constructions. Collins politely declines, referencing a messy desk.

“We have a history of being a test case for Australia because of our diverse population. If it works in Newcastle it will work in the rest of the country. We have a focus on liveability in our city. We can go to the vineyards, the beach or the rugby on the weekend. We can go for a surf before work. In Sydney, you have to spend an hour to get to work. It takes me 13 minutes on a bus!”

NeW Space

EJE Architects have just finalised the University of Newcastle’s new CBD building “NeW Space” in collaboration with Melbourne firm Lyons Architects. The building is a nod to the old and the new Newcastle. Mr Collins elaborates: “Everyone thinks the building is interesting from the outside. It is 10 times more interesting from the inside! It’s designed that way under a philosophy called the ‘Urban Panoramic’, where you drag as much as you can from the surroundings into the building”.

New Space, our new city campus University building. Photo by University of Newcastle.

New Space, our new city campus University building. Photo by University of Newcastle.

“What can we expect when we go in there?” I ask. “A view of Newcastle never seen before. In every direction. It highlights the importance of the town hall clock. You get an amazing view of that clock from inside the building. When you start using NeW Space, you realise how much the space has got to do with the city. You can go from Hunter Street, via King Street to Laman Street through green space”.

The drivers of change
Mr Collins considers the investment in Newcastle foreshore, followed by the decision by the University of Newcastle to open a new CBD campus as catalysts for change in Newcastle. “Along with the Court House, the university has taken the high ground on the matter. They are going to change this city”.

Collins believes Newcastle had to change because people were moving out when the city was not providing what they needed. Small yet significant changes such as Renew Newcastle providing affordable space to entrepreneurs had the required impact.

“Newcastle has more people prepared to have a go. Australia has the most travelled people in the world. And the most travelled people in Australia come from Newcastle. This is an affordable place to live so you can have enough money to travel overseas. You’re not stuck. Newcastle’s beauty ensures you come back”.

Be more positive!

I ask what advice Mr Collins has for Newcastle. “If I could give Newcastle one piece of advice it is to be positive. Yes, there will be negative aspects of the super cars, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the super cars. You work with the people impacted to offset the negatives. It is like the philosophy of ‘Urban Panoramic’. You work with what is around you and make it work for you. Change won’t stop but you can influence the change so it works for you. That is what’s going on in Newcastle at the moment. We are going through a period of change and as architects we try to capture this change in our design”.

Our talk is drawing to a close. “For 40,000 years Aboriginals have lived in Newcastle. Their stories impact design. Every building has layer upon layer of stories. The worst thing you can do with heritage is to try to stop it at a particular point. The change we are going through now is just the next layer in our story”.

Architect and director of EJE, Mr Barney Collins. Photo by Alexander McIntyre.

Architect and director of EJE, Mr Barney Collins. Photo by Alexander McIntyre.

About the photographer

Alexander McIntyre is a photographer of people and places. He has a background in commercial photography from Melbourne and the UK and has recently relocated home to Newcastle with his young family.

His beautiful portfolio can be found at alexandermcintyre.com.

Long & Co were privileged to work with Mr McIntyre for this photo series. His talent is notable and his manner equally so.

About Long & Co

Long & Co is a marketing company based in Newcastle with clients locally, in Sydney and interstate. We have one purpose and that is to help our clients go to the next level by unlocking their marketing potential. We do this by partnering with our clients, starting with strategy and then skilfully implementing.

Our expertise in strategy, creative, production and media delivers work that drives actual business results. We market for today, we love emerging technology and we grow because our clients do.

Read the full blog series: The Change in Newcastle

Introduction to the Change in Newcastle

Part 1 – The Change: A talk with Mr Hilton Grugeon

Part 3 – A Tsunami of Change with HunterHunter