Progress: “There appears to be no slowdown in the residential market in the inner city or other areas such as the Adamstown Renewal Corridor,” says Stuart Campbell.

Why did you become an architect?

Stuart CampbellCKDS works in the commercial, residential and industrial spaces. How is the work mix at present?

Currently we are mainly working on residential projects with some large commercial work. In Newcastle and on the Central Coast there is strong demand for apartments and medium density developments and we are seeing a real lift in the level of quality people are expecting.

Your firm worked on the Gateway I project (corner of Parry St and Stewart Ave). You said it would be a catalyst for development – has it?

The project is an important part of the resurgence in the West End. It was certainly one of the first prominent buildings with the interchange, planning guidelines and council aspirations are the real collective catalyst.

Newcastle council will movesinto Gateway II (corner of Hunter St and Stewart Ave). How is it progressing?

Stage 2 is under construction. It will be a fully commercial building with approximately 10,000sqm of office space. The project has been designed in partnership with PTW and is subject to a design excellence process that includes the NSW Government Architects. Itwas a fantastic process that ensureda high degree of rigour through ongoing design reviews from design to construction documentation.

You have been working with Iris Capital, the redeveloper of Hunter Street mall, at 176 Hunter Street. Tell us what it entails?

176 Hunter Street is a beautiful Menkins-designed commercial building.

It entails adding two additional top storeys and fully renovating and reorganising the existing structure, restoring it to the original state. It’s a tight site with many constraints but the end product will be amazing and will offer some really unique apartments and retail space.

There is some concern that the mall’s shiny redevelopment will make it unaffordable for SMEs and creatives who have in the past five years reactivated the space …

The redevelopment of the mall is being done in a sensitive and considered way. I believe the finished project will be extremely diverse and interesting. The activated ground plane as well as the adaptive reuse of some of the existing buildings will hold many opportunities for SMEs and creatives.

Previous upgrades to the mall have seen daggy awnings hideglorious old buildings. Does the new masterplan will celebrate the heritage at the site?

The site’s heritage is key to the whole project. Existing buildings of significance are being retained and upgraded to ensure their ongoing viability. Any new built form is being stitched into the existing urban fabric, this includes the upgrade or reinstatement of awnings. Council’s Urban Design Consultative Group is very thorough in its assessment and review of the schemes being considered.

What’s in the pipeline?

There appears to be no slowdown in the residential market in the inner city or other areas such as the Adamstown Renewal Corridor. We have some single houses that will soon start construction and we are looking forward to seeing proposed smaller scale detail take place alongside larger developments such as Verve and Gateway 2.

The biggest challenges to your business?

Architects are highly cognisant of the tightrope we walk between commercial viability and quality design, particularly in Newcastle where factors such as mine subsidence and flood planning play such a critical role.

And to your industry?

Retaining the design integrity from concept all the way through to completion of a building. Our role, particularly on site, is increasingly being scaled back which can sometimes affect the integrity of the design. It is also critical for junior staff – our future designers – to be able to see how it all comes together on site.