The Library

Newcastle East NSW



Berkelouw Books


Newcastle East, NSW

The Team:

Architect: James Clarence, Callum Rowley


Retail, Multi-Residential, Commercial

The Vision

Both the location and the existing building are fantastic assets to the Newcastle community, our aim at SDA was to create a design that is not only an efficient answer to the client’s brief, but also an experience from a retail and residential perspective. We are excited to see this building come to life.

The Gallery


The School of Arts building, on the Wolfe Street corner in Hunter Street Mall, was built in 1875 and is one of the older surviving buildings and the first public library in Newcastle. Quite fittingly, SDA are partnering with the clients who own & operate Berkelouw Books, one of the earliest importers of books to Australia, and one of rather few remaining successful booksellers.

Initially, the project has always been about providing a space for Berkelouw Books to operate their bookstore from. The clients love Newcastle and could see the potential for this part of the city well before any of the East End development and resulting gentrification came about. The remainder of the development has been about making it commercially viable; the building is quite dilapidated, and significant works would be required just to bring it up to specification. A residential addition is essentially the most feasible means of keeping this building alive, and the scale proposed is ultimately the happy medium between creating a financially viable and approvable development that will strengthen and support the community surrounding it.

Although various obstacles presented themselves, including the management of the heritage fabric, maximising carparking and developing a commercially viable business, we have managed to maintain the character of the building as far as possible, & instate a new element that is contrasting without being overly dominate.


We welcome you to contact us for more information
about our award winning architecture, interior design or project management.