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The Architectural Marvel of 123 House in Nedlands, Perth

This residential gem, a creation born from the rich history of its surroundings, seamlessly integrates with the suburban landscape, offering its owners and the local community a fresh perspective on contemporary living.

Project Origins:

The origins of 123 House trace back to its owners, a retired couple with a deep connection to the site -- once the location of an Ampol service station they owned and operated for three decades, with thousands of motorists visiting the site throughout its history. Following the decommissioning of the service station, the couple entrusted an architect, Neil Cownie, with the task of designing a home that would not only preserve the essence of the site but also accommodate their lifestyle.

Neil Cownie: "The goal for me in the design of any new building is to achieve a building that sits comfortably with the suburbs-built form history. In my search for the unique attributes of the site for 123 House, I looked to the history of the suburb, the history of the site and my clients own experiences, to create a house that provided a 'sense of belonging."

Historical Context:

Nedlands, an older suburb in Western Australia dating back to the early 20th century, boasts a diverse architectural history, ranging from Arts and Craft to Mediterranean and Spanish Mission styles. Within the suburb, numerous two-story apartment buildings mirror the architectural style of enlarged houses from the late 1930s, a post-depression building period. Neil's inspiration for the design of this project stemmed from the historic forms of higher-density buildings prevalent in the 1930s.

Design Challenges and Solutions:

One of the primary challenges faced in the design process was maximizing northern orientation while maintaining the desired street address of 123 Dalkeith Road. The solution lay in the clever placement of the entry at the corner of the building, ambiguously addressing both street frontages. The dynamic entry porch and corner window create a focal point, casting the street number '123' in a captivating interplay of light.

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HERMES Rhodes bowl, small model

Environmental Considerations:

123 House strategically turns its back on the south side to Princess Road, optimizing small openings for cross ventilation. Meanwhile, the north and eastern sides feature larger openings for solar access, outlook, and protected cross-ventilation. This thoughtful orientation ensures maximum environmental benefits for indoor living spaces, with highlight windows allowing controlled northern light to filter into the house during winter months.

Architectural Influences:

Incorporating influences from the Greek Islands and the local Nedlands architecture, 123 House stands out with its curved forms, terracotta tiled roofs, and white painted walls. The internal design reflects the textural ambiance of Greek beachside tavernas, featuring timber fiber acoustic wall panels and face brick walls. The curved ceilings evoke the spirit of traditional Greek villages, promoting sun and ventilation through strategically placed highlight windows.

"There were several things that lead me to determine the materials used in the fabric of the house. The selection of the external materials of brickwork and terracotta tiles are in keeping with the majority of the houses within the suburb. Their colour however, being a chalky off white face brick and a Pearl white glazed roof tile were chosen more out of referencing my clients own heritage, designed to provide the relaxed palette of a Greek taverna," says Neil.

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Japanese Rope Pendant Light 1-Light Global Hanging Ceiling Light for Dining Room - Coffee / 14.5

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Henry Kelsey Climbing Rose  Cuttings

Shapes and colors:

The shapes and colors in the house have a sense of refined fun. Neil says:* "The curved forms are taking their cue from the local houses where arches to front porches and windows are quite common. Rather than mimicking the arch form however, I used 'half circles and part circles as repetitive shapes through both the architecture and interior design."*

Curved ceilings in the kitchen, stair, powder room, and ensuite evoke the charm of Greek village roofs and reflect the arches seen in Nedlands houses, providing central sunlight and ventilation through strategically placed highlight windows in the house.

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AllModern McCarthy Cane Bar & Counter Stool in Brown | Size 31.5 H x 15.7 W x 18.9 D in

Four Hands Robles Outdoor Counter Stool - Finish: Natural Teak, Vintage Natural

Kathy Kuo Home Callaghan Coastal Beach | Natural Oak Woven Rope Counter Stool | Beige | Wood/Rope

Larksilk 24" Monstera House Plant in Black Pot, Silk Leaves, 24 Realistic Leaves, Coconut Bark Trunk

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Klappbarer Strandstuhl Stoff und Holzrahmen Mehrfarbig

Tumbona Jacinta - 77x112xh43/89cm / Blanco y Caf

Contemporary Wood Folding Chair Brown - Olivia & May

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Cosh Fauteuil Cosh Fauteuil

Squeegee image 6

Uniquewise Bamboo Cylinder Floor Vase - Handcrafted Tall Decorative Vase - Ideal for Dining Room, Living Room, 27.5 Inch Red

Fauteuil Bunny gris

Ruscha Mid Century Glossy Red Blue Aqua West German Cylinder Vase

Ampol Legacy:

The memory of the former petrol station is artfully embedded in the building fabric. Concrete impressions pay homage to the old Ampol logo, while colored glass mirrors the hues of petrol and engine oil. The balustrade, inspired by wheel spokes, and a letterbox perched upon a vehicle suspension spring add delightful touches. Internally, custom-designed elements, such as powder-coated aluminum shelving and a timber dining table reminiscent of stacked car tires, reflect the iconic Ampol logo.

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Industrial 41.3H Bar Table Brown Wood Specialty Top Bistro Table with Double Pedestal - 47.2L x 17.7W x 41.3H / Without Chairs

Runder Tisch Colette,  90 cm

Vintage Round Red Travertine Dining Table, 1970s

Modern Round Standard Height Dining Table Natural Base Pedestal Casual Dining Table - White / 27.6L x 27.6W x 29.5H / Without Chairs

10 Lamparas Papel 20cm 8 Pulgadas Arroz Pantalla Linterna Decorativa Colores Fiesta Cumpleaos Boda XV Aos Decoracion Colgante Ambiente Romantico

Modern Style Chair Dining Arm Chairs with Wooden Legs for Kitchen - Burgundy / 1 Piece / Natural Wood

Wood Industrial Kitchen Dining Room Chair Open Back Side Chair - Coffee / 2 Piece Set

Extra large Cocoon Big Ball ceiling lamp in very good original vintage condition

Success of the project:

The success of the project was a culmination of a holistic design approach, a commitment to reflecting the history and owners' story, client collaboration, and meticulous attention to the synergy between architectural and furnishing elements. The result is a home that not only stands as a physical structure but also engages in a meaningful conversation with its occupants and surroundings.

Cownie notes: "I had the opportunity for a holistic design approach where I covered the architecture, interior design, the selection of all furnishings and curtains along with the custom design of several furniture item. My client's faith in what I was doing for them with the design of the house was to their ultimate benefit as the house has a clarity that can only be achieved when clients support the core concepts presented to them."

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Contemporary Rectangle Shape Standard Dining Table Solid Wood Kitchen Dining Table with Trestle Base - 70.9L x 31.5W x 29.5H / Without Chairs

Premium 12-Piece Fine Line White and Beige Paper Lantern Party Pack Set

Beige/Ivory Corded Round Table Top Lantern Lamp Kit w/ Light Bulb, Fine Lines - Black Cord

10 Lamparas Papel 30cm 12 Pulgadas Arroz Pantalla Linterna Decorativa Colores Fiesta Cumpleaos Boda XV Aos Decoracion Colgante Ambiente Romantico

23"x33" Sylvie Beaded Shades of Day Framed Canvas by Mary Sparrow Gold - Kate & Laurel All Things Decor

Enara Bowl

1pc Cotton Yarn Woven Placemat, Washable, Waterproof And Dustproof, Anti-scalding And Anti-skid, Braided Heat Insulation Pad, Tabletop Protection, Home Kitchen Dining Table Decor

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Oval Double Pedestal Modern Dining Table Pinewood Fixed Table for Kitchen - 70.9L x 31.5W x 29.5H / Without Chairs

Home Scandinavian Arm Chair Wood Upholstered Solid Back Dining Room Chair - Orange / 1 Piece / Natural Wood

Akari 23A Pendelleuchte

Paolo Natural Wood Dining Chair

Home Scandinavian Style Wood Dining Chair Open Back Dining Side Chair with Arm - Natural / 1 Piece

Rice Paper 45A Pendant Lamp Dia 60cm x H 60cm / White

Malam Linen Lantern / Off  White / Medium

Juba Paper Ceiling Lightshade

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Blu Dot Council Swivel Lounge Chair in Ivory

Picolo Chair - White / None / Fabric group 1

Mesa De Apoio Inclinada Para Sof Base Cromada - Castanho

Hookeriana Banksia - Pink


Hanging Potted Plant, Hoya In Bright Mustard Pot - Grandin Road

Hampton Bay 3 in. W x 91.5 in. H Cabinet Filler in Natural Hickory

Front Door

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Exclusive Home Solano 100% Linen Light Filtering Hidden Tab Top Curtain Panel, 50"x108", Linen

Pair of Longcot Dining Chairs

Candeeiro de mesa GU10 1 luz metal/plstico cinzento Inspire Clip

Ball Frosted Glass Semi Flush Light Modern Stylish 3 Lights Black/White Ceiling Mounted Light with Curved Arm - Black

Adesso Orb Small Pendant Lamp, White, Furniture

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Classy Art Woodland Solitude By Veronica Faust Framed Print Nature Wall Art 28 in. x 34 in., Framed In Gilded Radiance

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national PLANT NETWORK 2.25 Gal. Distylium Plant with White Blooms

Peacock Blue Hotel Escala Cushion 45x45cm - Olive Green

Madrid Bathroom Storage Box White

Rubber Travel Bowl - Light Grey

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Metal Poster Manchester Nights 2


  • Project size: 296 m2
  • Site size: 450 m2
  • Completion date: 2022
  • Building levels: 2

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