Newcastle Technical College
Hunter Institute of Technology
Harry Rembert within the office of the NSW Government Architect (E.E. Smith & C. Parkes)
date of commission:
date of completion:
Mayfield, Newcastle, NSW
– DOCOMOMO Australia Register
Originally designed as Technical College (part secondary and tertiary)
Docomomo Australia fiche:
Newcastle Technical College comprises a complete campus of buildings designed for New South Wales’ second-largest and premier industrial city, Newcastle. The master plan for the site was prepared by Harry Rembert of the NSW Government Architects Branch (GAB) of the Public Works Department (PWD) in about 1934.
The first building of the complex, the Sir Edgeworth David Science Building was constructed in 1936. The next building was the H.G. Darling Engineering Building which was commenced in 1938. The third and largest building to be constructed was the semi-circular Trades Classroom Building which was commenced in 1940. This building showed the strong design influence of the work of Willem Dudok and is similar in detail to the Sydney Technical College School of Automotive Engineering which was built slightly earlier
Later buildings were designed and constructed by other architects after World War 2. The earliest three buildings began to exhibit major cracking in the 1970s due to the corrosion of the steel beams supporting brickwork over the long window openings.
On 28 December 1989, a major earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter Scale struck Newcastle. The earthquake caused damage to 50,000 buildings, destroyed 300 buildings, and caused the death of 13 people. The brickwork of the Newcastle Technical College was seriously damaged and the subsequent repairs to the buildings were not as sympathetic as could have been expected, given the importance of the buildings; especially the brickwork repairs which were carried out in modern, standard-size bricks which differed in size to the bricks used in the pre-war buildings.
The complex continues to be used for its original purpose.
The buildings are significant examples of the work of the NSW Government Architect’s branch under the Government Architect Cobden Parkes and the design architect Harry Rembert. The buildings are significant aesthetically as modern buildings constructed within an inner Newcastle suburb that largely dates from the nineteenth century. The complex of buildings retains many of its original details. The materials used and the character of the interior spaces clearly shows the influence of European modernism, particularly the work of Wilhelm Dudok in the Netherlands.
Webber, G.P., 1982, E. H. Rembert, The Life and Work of a Sydney Architect, 1902-1966, Sydney: University of Sydney/Department of Public Works