I’ll admit I don’t usually get excited by brand new houses but Subiaco House changed my mind and proved me wrong. As the judges of the 2020 Houses Awards said, it’s “radical by stealth,” fitting in beautifully in its Federation era neighbourhood while having its very own unique look and feel.
It’s a new family home in the leafy WA suburb of Subiaco. This generous family house engages its occupants with their community and sensitively responds to the rich, established character of the streetscape.
The can tell the jurors were excited by this beautiful design by Vokes and Peters with its “timber bay windows on street elevations; an exuberant hat of terracotta tiles; rainwater heads like neat broaches on notched lapels; and its rafters, battens and struts glimpsed in flashes of the petticoat.
“The home’s finely detailed interiors are rich with material and tectonic expression, in tile, stone, concrete, metal and timber. Skirts and cornices are there but not there. Neat ankles touch down lightly.”
It’s perhaps no surprise it won the New House over 200 m2 category.
The judges continued: “This polite heritage response belies the home’s true radical heart. Its planning subverts the object-in-landscape, “garden suburb” type. The ground floor wall extends to the site boundaries, transforming from bay window to gate to arbor, fence to screen, engaged seating, entry, circulation.
“It harnesses the “public” front garden of the house, co-opting it into the private space of the house, while also cunningly giving it back to the street. Inside and outside are drawn together, as are public and private. The suburban corner is held by an occupiable cloister edge, as if the Federation house figure-ground diagram now has intriguing shades of grey at its periphery. It is an expansive and radical rethinking of the suburban garden fence.”
Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones