This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Restoring Architectural Law And Order In 'The Wild West'

Architecture

In an increasingly difficult environment for those trying to enter the property market, there are a few shooting-star innovators carving out new approaches in urban development and design. Our love for Jeremy McLeod and the Nightingale project is no secret – and today we introduce the best from The West(!), Perth-based architectural practice Whispering Smith.

We chat with architect Kate Fitzgerald about the firm’s boundary-pushing practice, and the minimalist genius of House A. Fun fact – Whispering Smith takes its name from a 1950’s Western series about an underdog sheriff trying to restore law and order in the Wild West, which seems highly appropriate for this innovative and energetic architectural practice! Giddy-up!

16th August, 2018

House A by Whispering Smith. Photo – Ben Hosking.

The clean concrete planes of House A. Photo – Ben Hosking.

House A is an apartment-house hybrid, exploring the potential of future housing options. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Minimal aesthetics, maximum living opportunities. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Kitchen details in House A. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Indoor/outdoor spaces abound. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Kitchen details. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Clever design makes use of all available space! Photo – Ben Hosking.

A small space for leading a big life. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Minimal chic. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Laundry with a view! Photo – Ben Hosking.

Agile planning negotiations can result in beautiful design outcomes. Photo – Ben Hosking.

Photo – Ben Hosking.

House A by Whispering Smith. Photo – Ben Hosking.

New design from the Wild West (Perth)! Photo – Ben Hosking.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 16th August 2018

‘Small can be big if you work hard at the design.’ – Kate Fitzgerald.

Architect Kate Fitzgerald of practice Whispering Smith describes the stunning ‘House A’ project as part of the architectural firm’s ‘boundary-pushing’ approach to the residential sector in WA. She explains, ‘there’s some incredible architectural talent here, but it’s been a bit diluted by a lot of low-quality mansion project homes, which is why we spend a lot of our time advocating for more innovative housing in Perth.’

House A certainly answers this brief for high-quality design! Kate describes this project as their ‘first foray into being a developer – we wanted to build a prototype for an apartment-house hybrid, to show people how small can be big if you work hard at the design’. Whispering Smith has worked hard to create a small space that supports big lived experiences!

The simple design of the house resembles a ‘house of cards’ through a clever stacking of concrete planes that fit together in a clean configuration. Kate cheerfully describes the design as more of an ‘oversized paperweight than a house!’ A minimalist design was deliberately pursued as both an aesthetic choice, and to reflect Whispering Smith’s broader ethos. Kate outlines how minimalism helps ‘reduce the physical and environmental footprint of our houses, at the same time as embracing simple, good design for a better life’.

Beyond designing actual homes, Whispering Smith has also become experts in negotiating and finding flexibility within the often bureaucratic planning process. Kate highlights how ‘Perth’s outdated and much-maligned planning system is a major barrier to quality design and innovation’. Through dogged persistence and manoeuvring, Whispering Smith is now in a position to help others navigate the treacherous terrain of planning!

For Kate, the process of designing House A has connected Whispering Smith with many young people who are locked out of the housing market. As a result, the architecture firm is eager to pursue new models of housing and design strategies to support big lives in smaller spaces. We are excited to see how this firm lasso planning policies into new design opportunities!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Re-Invigorated Queenslander Cottage

Inside the serene B&B Residence by Brisbane's Hogg & Lamb architectural design practice.

Architecture

A Surprise In Ballarat's Suburbs

Eldridge and Anderson architects create a big impact with a modest budget, in this Ballarat home.

Homes

Eco House Western Australia

A bright contemporary home in Perth designed with sustainability in mind and a considered array of intriguing materials.
Anna Flanders

This Week

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...
Amelia Barnes
  11 hours ago

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Interiors

A Colour-Drenched, 'Grandmillennial' Home In North Sydney

Bold colour, and both English and Moroccan influences come together in this North Sydney home by Lisa Burdus.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

TDF Design Awards

The Sensational Interior Design Finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

The 12 incredible residential projects in the running to win the Interior Design award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021, presented by...

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

Indigenous Art

15 Excellent Indigenous Art Centres To Support And Celebrate!

We've spoken to some experts, and pulled together this guide on purchasing Aboriginal artwork ethically, and some ideas of where to find it!...

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Re-Invigorated Queenslander Cottage

Inside the serene B&B Residence by Brisbane's Hogg & Lamb architectural design practice.

Architecture

A Surprise In Ballarat's Suburbs

Eldridge and Anderson architects create a big impact with a modest budget, in this Ballarat home.

Homes

Eco House Western Australia

A bright contemporary home in Perth designed with sustainability in mind and a considered array of intriguing materials.
Anna Flanders

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.