Thursday night's Newcastle Architecture Awards recognised architects for their revivification of familiar spaces around the region with a sense of playfulness.
Many of this year's winning designs are accessible to the public.
Maitland's Riverlink building picked up the most accolades at the ceremony, hosted by the Australian Institute of Architects, including the sought-after "Jury's Prize".
The chair of the jury, architect Georgina Wilson, said all 14 winning designs, including a bar, beach house and townhouse development, indicated that "good architecture is highly valued" in Newcastle.
"Overall, the jury felt that there was a lovely looseness in the architecture, which seemed quite playful and experimental in nature. There was a sense of boldness," she said.
"This region is emerging as an inspiring example of a continuously rejuvenating and dynamically evolving built environment. It will be exciting to watch this space in the future."
Judges said Maitland Riverlink, designed by CHROFI Architects with McGregor Coxall and commissioned by Maitland City Council, felt like it was "meant to be" and were impressed by the structure's unification of the business district and the Hunter River.
"It was particularly wonderful to see councils like Maitland continuing to actively and imaginatively pursue meaningful improvements to their town," Ms Wilson said.
Two other civic projects by EJE Architecture, the Newcastle Signal Box and The Station, were recognised for their contribution to heritage architecture.
Judges were impressed by the "considered" approach to preparing both sites for new uses while retaining their historic value.
A "sci fi inspired" Merewether home won the award for residential architecture of a new house. Austin Maynard Architects caught the eyes of judges with a sculptural balcony and contrasting base made of recycled bricks.
St Pius X High School's library won two awards. Judges said SHAC's design, featuring an oversized staircase that doubles as an amphitheatre, had successfully integrated spaces used for different purposes.
Other winners included CKDS Architecture for The Edge townhouses in Wickham, True North Architects for the Graham Whiteing Residence at Killcare Heights and Derive Architecture and Design for the interiors of King Street bar and restaurant Ginger Megs.
Ms Wilson said all 31 entries were a "testament to the local architects and community".
She encouraged winners to progress to the state level of the Institute's National Architecture Awards.