Friar House Apartment Hotel

Friar House is an excellent example of pre-Grainger Newcastle and has seen various transformations since construction in the 1700’s from the Town Recorders main residence to an industrial factory.

The large Georgian town house was in a poor state of disrepair when we took on the project to restore the grade II listed building and convert into a boutique hotel. Roomzzz Newcastle is an award winning which can now be enjoyed now by all. There are 14 suites over the five floors including a penthouse suite with mezzanine floor in the roof space. Proportions of key spaces have been retained employing  “Manhattan Lofts” style subdivision to create different moods within original proportioned spaces.

Numerous original features are highlighted in this building employing all the modern trappings hotel guests would expect with all the detail of a restoration project.


Newcastle Lord Mayors Awards – Conservation Award
RIBA North East - Emerging Practice of the Year
RIBA North East - Conservation Project of the Year
RIBA North East - Building Award
RICS North East - Tourism & Leisure Commendation

Sacred Heart High School Auditorium

The existing auditorium space at Sacred Heart High School had become dated with a combination of poor sight lines and limited capacity leading them to our services in reimagining this space.

Following an initial appraisal we established the re-raking of the seating would serve a double benefit in also creating a new space underneath where a new outward looking staff and assembly facility could be located. The auditorium is also intended for touring theatre companies including the RSC, the facilities have been developed to give this flexibility as well as providing a new dance / theatre teaching space during everyday use to maximise the impact of the works.

We developed a simple stripped back palette of natural materials and earthy colours with the school to give a calming feel and inspiring for the young performers. The staff area opens out to give expansive views of the wooded estate the school sits in.

The build was completed in the live environment on the first floor space including substantial alterations to the existing concrete structure over six months.

Mount Grace Priory Cafe

Mount Grace Priory is the most complete surviving Carthusian Monastery in Britain dating back to the 14th Century including a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Grade I & II* Listed buildings. MawsonKerr were commissioned to design and deliver a café within the grounds in order to increase visitors numbers, the sites offer and to enhance an underused area of the site.

The café was part of an overall masterplan for the redevelopment of the gardens designed by Chris Beardshaw (Gardens World).  The café reaches out into the landscape and becomes part of the interpretation of the site whilst increasing dwell time and visitor experience.  We worked closely with Chris and the team in the integration of the café within the landscape.

From the outset the project has been envisioned as a contemporary building which is respectful to the context, the design refers to traditional wood working techniques, vernacular forms and traditional materials evidenced in the Monument. The oak screen ‘reaches’ out into the landscape and the double pitched form mounted on the oak screen refers to the crossing of thresholds – the boundary walls of the monk’s cloister with the repeating pitches of the monk’s cell’s beyond.

In such a sensitive historic and environmental context, the specification of the materials has to be carefully and creatively considered. The Oak screen was manufactured from unused 30-year-old oak boards which were being stored at an English Heritage Store at Helmsley, North Yorkshire minimising the use of new hardwoods. Slate material for the roof and external walls was sourced from a reclaimed stock of local slate, this was selected as the material requires very low levels of maintenance and can be easily repaired or replaced when required.  

Byker Town

With Town -

Words by Neil Murphy, Director - Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town

MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town


MawsonKerr Byker Town



Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort is part of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade II listed (Courtyard Buildings).  The site is run by English Heritage with the existing visitor centre providing interpretation displays for the Roman Fort as well as a new café, retail, education space and accommodation.

The project looked at an overall masterplan and refurbishment/new build options for the centre including visitor flow and experience.

A key aspect to the project was the spatial assessment of the current and proposed and the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ that needed to be solved to appropriately accommodate all functions to maximise the visitor experience and allow for an efficient running of the site.  The design involved both refurbishment and a new build contemporary glazed link.

We have worked closely with the project team to develop and scheme which we be an exemplar family experience and their flagship family site on the Wall.



RICS North West Leisure and Tourism Award

Theatre Royal Back of House

This latest capital project at the Theatre Royal looked to enhance the actor experience and comprised half million pound refurbishment project over six floors including dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, band rooms, staff facilities with extensively reworked arrival and green room spaces.

Construction work within the Grade I listed building were phased to be completed on a floor by floor basis over 14 months while the building was alive with actors and staff fulfilling strict performance schedules for the majority of the works.

The Iconic building has had various works to the front of house and we were delighted to be involved in redesigning the back of house area to a brief of providing “the best dressing room facilities in the country”. In opening up the cellular spaces on the ground floor the back of house area has a new heart providing a welcoming arrival for newcomers and a relaxation area promoting interaction between theatre staff and touring companies.

Bigg Market, Newcastle

The key historic centre of Newcastle has undergone a major facelift as part of a Townscape Heritage Initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with MawsonKerr as lead consultant and architects. The project has involved 17 of the surrounding buildings on Bigg Market, Cloth Market and Groat Market along with the public realm and iconic Victorian Gentlemen's WC.

Infamous as part of Newcastle's legendary nightlife, this core of the city had become neglected and many of the historic building facades needing urgent work ahead of the original detail being lost forever. As part of the £3.2 million budget NE1 are organising various events and workshops to celebrate the enhancement of the area.

Calverley Old Hall

Calverley Old Hall near Leeds is a Grade I listed medieval manor house with fabric dating from the 13th to 17th centuries. While part has been a Landmark holiday let for many years, the rest of the site had fallen into disuse and such decay that it is currently on the Heritage at Risk Register. In 2017 an international design competition was launched; our design was shortlisted against 75 proposals, we went on be part of the final interview process.

Our proposal imagined recreating the former uses of the original hall in their configuration, bringing back the glory of the main congregation spaces with historic fabric retained throughout. Any interventions were to be in contemporary materials to be easily read against the original building. Using CLT as the main proposed material four bedrooms with en-suites were created with the dramatic medieval spaces kept as livable follies for banquets and gatherings.

Levens Hall Restaurant

Levens Hall and Gardens is a grade I listed hall and gardens and is recognised as the oldest original garden in England featuring the oldest Haha. The house has been in the Bagot Family for centuries who were looking to create a contemporary restaurant within the grounds to complement the amazing historical fair that has been a tourist destination for decades. Famous for the topiary hedges of amazing scale and variety it is regularly used for film sets and garden programmes.

We worked with the family and staff looking at a number of different sites and design options within the grounds before homing in on a proposal that was simple in plan with a dynamic roof form pointing to the future.

The building sits on a plinth above the flood zone and provides a new destination alongside the gardens and hall that can operate all year round. The material palette and detail have been carefully developed to make strong connection to the neighbouring structures with a finely manicured hedge running through the building and out towards the river Kent referencing the gardens. The project is to develop the Bagot Family’s keen interest in ‘field to fork’ eating using products all grown within close proximity for sustainable dining.

Tyne Tee

The Staithes at Dunston, a listed structure, is considered to be the largest timber structure in Europe. This relic of the industrial era currently collects flotsam and is slowly decomposing in the silt of the Tyne.

Our light touch proposal is to bring this back to life as an ecological gold driving range where you can “hit some balls and feed the fish”. This is part of the Forgotten Spaces North East competition where surreal and wild ideas are pitched in a public arena discussing areas requiring regeneration.

There is a more serious debate behind the light-hearted solution; the loss of this iconic structure. We are putting our whole-hearted support behind this industrial monument and will be generating other ideas in the coming months.


Forgotten Spaces North East Winner