Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Robert Frith

Roscommon Villa

©Jack Lovel

Roscommon Villa

©Jack Lovel

Roscommon Villa

©Jack Lovel

Roscommon Villa

©Jack Lovel

Roscommon Villa

©Jack Lovel

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

©Michael Nicholson

Roscommon Villa

Location: Roscommon Road, Floreat, Western Australia

Architect: Neil Cownie

Client: private

Material: concrete & wood

Design date: 2016

Completion date: 2018

Built area: 549m2

INTERIOR DESIGNER: Neil Cownie Architect Pty Ltd.

STRUCTURAL: Allied Air Pty Ltd.

HYDRAULIC: Wayne Lupton Hydraulics Pty Ltd.

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: PlanE Landscape Pty Ltd.

CONTRACTORS: Mosman Bay Construction Pty Ltd.

SUB-CONTRACTORS: CONCRETE – Hanson Pty Ltd. BRASS METALWORK – Living Iron Pty Ltd. TIMBER JOINERY – Abbsolutely Timber Pty Ltd. CABINETWORK – Samuel Cabinetry Pty Ltd. FORM WORKERS – Grafform Pty Ltd. FIXING CARPENTERS – Wesprojex Pty Ltd.

BUILDING MATERIAL SUPPLIERS: TIMBER FLOORING – Mafi Flooring. PLUMBING FIXTURES AND FITTINGS – Lavare Bathrooms. FLOOR AND WALL TILES – Attica Pty Ltd. WALL TILES – Eco Outdoor WA Pty Ltd. TIMBER WALL LINING – Austim Timber Pty Ltd.

Photographer: Michael Nicholson, Robert Frith, Jack Lovel.

Story:

Text provided by the architects:

GENERAL DESIGN PHILOSOPHY OF THE PRACTICE; The work of Neil Cownie Architect strives to achieve solutions specific for his clients where the final built environment is ‘super specific’ to its location, creating a strong sense of place.

PROJECT SCOPE OF WORK IN A NUTSHELL; My clients gave me the opportunity to provide a holistic design approach and service across architecture, interior design, product design, furniture, artwork selection and landscape, the house and its contents work together as one realization.

 

PROJECT IN A NUTSHELL; Roscommon House is in conversation with its past, present and future: as a house that reflects the unique attributes of its locations ‘Garden Suburb’ Town Planning, modernist architecture, and ideals of the original subdivision. A new house in conversation with the ethos of the suburb with a strong ‘sense of belonging’.

Through the spatial arrangement of courtyards, the building incorporates the history of the garden suburb into the house, while the robust exterior materials of the building carry to interiors to continue this seamless interaction between indoor and outdoor living.

The interiors embrace the uneven concrete surfaces and are in keeping with the Japanese aesthetic ‘Wabi-sabi’ where we have sought beauty from imperfection. Materials have been chosen for their roughness, texture, modesty, and acceptance of the beauty in aging.

FLOOR AREAS; The majority of the building is single level, however, it does contain a basement and a small first-floor footprint with roof gardens. Basement area = 143sqm, Ground floor area = 334sqm, first floor area =72sqm, roof terrace area = 72sqm. (TOTAL FLOOR AREA OF 549sqm).

MATERIALS: Off-form concrete with a timber board marked finish, Abodo Engineered Timber ‘Elements’ to all timber scotia profiled wall cladding and cabinetry. Mafi engineered timber flooring on concrete slabs.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

In my search for the unique attributes of the site for Roscommon House, I looked to the history of the suburb: its Town Planning, architecture, and ideals of the original subdivision for direction in creating a new house with a strong ‘sense of belonging’.

 With a significant legacy of modernist and brutalist buildings still remaining in suburb, I felt a responsibility to produce a design for this new house that not only served the needs and desires of my clients but was also in conversation with the ethos of the suburb, without mimicking or replicating the past.

The owners’ brief for a mostly single-story home drove the architect to integrate building and landscape, thereby reducing the impact on-site, and embeds the house in its neighborhood.

In keeping with suburbs ‘Garden Suburb’ history, landscaping blurs the boundaries of inside and out by the use of ‘pocket’ courtyards and roof terrace gardens. The spatial arrangement of the ‘pocket’ courtyards is also driven by environmental concerns: the building is teased apart to maximize winter solar penetration and to capture prevailing cooling breezes.

Along with the passive solar design of the house the front roof conceals a 16.5kw photovoltaic array comprising 50 panels which allows the house to self-sufficient with its energy. Timbers and finishes within the house have been sourced from sustainable resources.

Finishes were chosen for their modesty and their ability to age gracefully as the house endures with all finishes to the house reflecting the ethos of seeking beauty from imperfection.

The design scope included not only architecture but also interior furnishings. This holistic design opportunity allowed all aspects of the house to reflect the important aspect of the ‘handmade’ in the house. The interior furnishings reinforce the handmade through such elements as; the heavy linen exposed hand-stitched edging, the custom-designed dining table, the external dining table, bedside tables, & the family room rug. The custom-designed pendant lights to the main stair void are integrated with the fluid forms of the recesses in the off-form concrete ceiling above. The choice of floral print fabric to the living room further reflecting the ‘Garden Suburb’ planning of the original subdivision.

Walls and ceilings have been designed as a series of unadulterated planes and blocks of interlocking sculptural shapes, further emphasized through services and lighting being generally discreet or even hidden. Lighting is separated from ceilings by its suspension below with only feature pendants of a hand made quality is allowed to be emphasized: as is the case in the dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, and main stair void.

The timber cabinetwork and timber clad walls elements read as one to simplify the visual reading of spaces. The fluid kitchen island bench with the hovering stone top reflects the local iconic beachside concrete kiosk building saved by the community.

SUSTAINABILITY

This house was designed to reduce energy and water consumption over its projected long lifespan. The site orientation and plan provide northern orientation to living spaces and maximize opportunities for cross ventilation from prevailing southwest winds.

 

A concealed 16.5kw photovoltaic array comprising 50 panels is currently exceeding pre-installation estimates by 20%. The owners use less than 20% of the generated electricity during the day, leaving 80% for storage in batteries that will be installed in the basement within two years. From that point, the house will be self-sufficient for electricity, even in winter.

 

The selection of long-lasting, low maintenance materials contributes to thermal mass, maintaining stable internal temperatures regardless of the season. Insulation – both thermal and acoustic – adds to indoor comfort throughout the year.

BIGGER PICTURE

Showing the way forward to respect the past; As I began the design process for Roscommon House, the iconic Brutalist concrete shell roof structure of the suburb’s Surf Lifesaving building was demolished, and the local council threatened to demolish the much-loved Brutalist concrete South City Beach kiosk. This blatant disregard and misunderstanding by the local authority of the importance of the suburb's unique architectural heritage led me to take particular inspiration from those two buildings, and to promote the long-term appreciation of the suburb’s built history, to the local authority and the general public.

With a significant legacy of modernist and brutalist buildings still remaining in suburb, I felt a responsibility to produce a design for this new house that not only served the needs and desires of my clients but was also in conversation with the ethos of the suburb, without mimicking or replicating the past.

We carried out a photographic survey of the original modernist buildings in the area to find in excess of seventy such buildings still remaining. This information was then used to inform our design of Roscommon House in studying the devices and form making of the original buildings of the area. We found these buildings to show consideration of the environment, consideration of orientation, simplicity of form, strong forms, transparency, and an honest modesty to be consistent across the buildings. We found a regionally distinctive form of architectural modernism, independent from the rest of Australia.

Through the design of Roscommon House and through our community engagement we are taking every opportunity to create an appreciation & awareness of the unique architecture of this area to both the local community and to the local authority.

On completion of the Roscommon House, we engaged with the local community during the process of creating our official photographic journal of the suburbs notable architecture. We referenced Roscommon House as an example of how a new house in this area could sit comfortably with its past. This message was overwhelmingly understood by the community with incredible support for Roscommon House and what it stands for.

COLLABORATION WITH OTHERS

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT – PLAN E. I guided my clients to engage the landscape architect Andrew Baronowski ‘Plan E’ Landscaping to join the design team. While I set out the over-riding design of the external areas, materials and location planning of the landscaping, it was Andrew that brought his knowledge of soft landscaping to the scheme.

 

SCULPTOR – PETER ZAPPA. My clients expressed a desire to develop a collection of sculptures through the house and within the landscape over time. I had admired the sculptures of Perth based Peter Zappa for some time and I felt that his work had an affinity with the design of the house. I proposed that my clients engage Peter to do a custom designed sculpture for the house that he developed in parallel to the building of the house. We are looking forward to the completion of the sculpture that once finished, will provide an important focal point through the house from entering the house at the front door.

 

ARTIST – KATE ELSSEY. I had been following the work of Kate where she had held an exhibition of her recently completed work at the time of the design of the house becoming consolidated. Her work spoke of the Western Australian native flora which again seemed so appropriate for the home. Having passed on my interest in Kate’s work to my clients they too action at yet another exhibition of Kate’s during construction where they purchased the colourful work now hung on the wall of their dining space.

 

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