• The original home was constructed during the garden-suburb movement
  • Design brings together elegance and easy-to-clean/maintain
  • By vittinoAsh

Architects vittinoAsh struck the balance between historic neighbourhood and contemporary ideas around healthy and sustainable family living in this Perth suburban home.

A 20th-century movement

When the overseas garden-suburb movement began influencing Perth’s fledgling suburbs of the early twentieth century, its anti-grid sentiment transformed suburban planning. Premised on ideas around health and cleanliness, it introduced a unique mix of parks intermingled with curvilinear streets, deep home setbacks and tree-lined road verges fronting typically modest homes such as the original bungalow on this site in Daglish.

Keeping with the brief and surrounding urban area, the home was kept to a single storey. The architects described the layout as “a little city”, taking previously closed and dark spaces like the kitchen and creating an open living and dining area. Rearranging the floorplan also allows for a clear view of the backyard from the entry hall.

This concept of creating garden views throughout the home helps to exaggerate the depth and extent of the site, making the house feel much larger than it actually is. Carefully considered screen planting also obscures the fact that roads in fact border the corner site on three sides.

In line with the garden-suburb movement, which believed in stronger societal connections from physically interacting with the natural environment, many of the trees planted are fruiting and having a dedicated productive garden was high on the client’s agenda too.

Healthy interior living

Internally, the home has come to be defined by a resolutely monochromatic palette that was largely employed as a means of unifying the new finishes with some of the original period-home features. The clients were keen to be involved in restoring as much as possible. However, the interior is also a product of the desire to create an easy-to-clean home. These aims are expressed, for example, in the stainless-steel benchtops and splashbacks as well as the combination of darkened timber and burnished concrete flooring.

The new living area with its blackened ceiling, rammed limestone walls, and fireplace has all the archetypal spatial allusions of a lit cave. More so, however, it is a remarkable, albeit challenging, feat of structural engineering. By having the upper portions of its rammed limestone and recycled concrete walls cantilevering through to the exterior of the home it also shades part of the largely northern aspect of the living room openings. Other features centred on sustainability and passive design include, rooftop solar panels, the use of a natural-oil decking finish, low-VOC paint to the walls and openings oriented to maximise opportunities for cross ventilation.

What this house best represents then, is an evolution of thinking about what healthy living is or might be. What started as an initial product of asking how gardens and access to sunlight in suburbia could help society respond to an industrialising world has largely come back full-circle here to the same question. Only, this time, it has given the home some extra answers.


Written by Domenic Trimboli. Photography by Ridhwaan Moolla.

This story was originally published in The Architect magazine, an official publication of the Australian Institute of Architects. It has been edited for republication by The Property Tribune. 

The Property Tribune thanks the Australian Institute of Architects for the opportunity to republish the work, and shine a light on Australian architecture.

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