SPACE Architects has been commissioned for the refurbishment of three adjoining buildings collectively known as the ‘Bruce Building’ in Newcastle’s Haymarket, once home to the head office of Newcastle Breweries Ltd which is Grade-II listed.
The iconic building, a granite plinth, masonry and red-sandstone property dating back 115 years, is currently undergoing a multi-million pound renovation to bring back its commercial use – part of the overall development which also supports student accommodation.
In partnership with Michigan Investments and Meldrum, the project will deliver a total of 57 high-specification studio apartments with phased completion commencing this autumn – the first phase completed in time for September’s fresh intake of students.
Originally designed by Victorian Joseph Oswald – a local architect whose work includes the Central Arcade in the city centre – the 2,800 sq metre refurbishment has many listed features and due to the sensitive streetscape, no new entrances could be formed to the front facade.
Andrew Bumfrey, Associate Director for Space Architects said: “The Bruce Building is a fantastic property with rich historic roots but with that comes a number of complexities. While we have stripped it back to the basic shell internally, the aspect to Percy Street is particularly sensitive so we have added an entrance to the rear in order for the front facade to remain unchanged.
“As well as working within the constraints of the existing building, one of the challenges has been to avoid disruption to the premises at street level including Walton Robinson Property Consultants which occupies the corner plot, The Hotspur pub and a barber.”
Each studio has been specifically designed to cater for single person living with ensuite facilities and compact kitchenettes, and some apartmentshave been developed to incorporate bed decks in the roof spaces.
The centre block has a new third floor providing habitable roof apartments containing dorma windows to the rear. The ornate faience ceramic tiling, mahogany panelling, plasterwork and a feature staircase linking the ground and first floors have all been preserved to the listed building.
Andrew said: “We discovered an extensive basement underneath the property with strong room safes and reinforced doors. There is a suggestion the basement may have been used during World War Two as a bomb shelter.
“A rare fire watchers’ tower has been incorporated into the new main entrance with a ‘glass slivers’ to the floor for a visual connection down into the basement. A glazed roof window also allows you to look up into the tower to see where wardens would have stood.”
Mark Fraser, Commercial Manager for Meldrum’s construction department said: “We temporarily removed the artefact for the construction phase but this will be reinstated to its previous location on completion. The team is really excited to unveil the development later this year.”
Mark Walton, Managing Director of Walton Robinson said: “The Bruce Building has been home to Walton Robinson for over a decade now; starting out with a small team, we have now grown to over 40 full-time and part-time staff and this exciting development will allow us to keep growing and expanding our services in the long term. Space Architects’ vision for the design of both our offices and the studio apartments is extremely impressive and we cannot wait to officially move in.”
The Breweries later relocated to the Gallowgate area which is now known as Newcastle Science Central and where Space Architects is involved in the design of The Key project, alongside Newcastle University and Arup.
Space Group CEO Rob Charlton said: “I find it really interesting that these heritage buildings are enjoying a renaissance – bringing buildings back to life under a ‘change of use’ to serve the needs of a twenty first century city.”