At first glance, 123 House by Neil Cownie Architect is undeniably striking.
But beneath its sculptural roof lines and playful cut out that reveals the home’s 123 street number as a shadow, this is a deeply personal place that reflects stories of the owner’s lives. This was especially important to Neil’s clients, as the couple had previously owned and operated a former Ampol service station on the very same site in Perth’s Nedlands for more than 30 years.
‘The petrol station was demolished in October 2014 when my clients commenced the decommissioning of the station and made application to subdivide the site into three residential lots,’ Neil Cownie says.
The clients engaged Neil to create a new ‘maintenance-free’ house on the vacant corner block, with enough space to also accommodate sleepovers from their six grandchildren. Ensuring the home was fit for ageing in place, a lift provides access to the main bedroom and living rooms upstairs, leaving the ground floor for their visiting grandchildren.
Both the site’s unique history and the neighbourhood’s architecture served as inspiration for the resulting design. The exterior’s sandy white bricks and curves reimagines the familiar arches and white masonry walls that are common to the surrounding period homes in the area.
Memories of the former petrol station are cleverly incorporated throughout. A window of textured, green-coloured glass provides privacy from onlookers, while also nodding to the glossy tones of engine oil.
The balustrade was likewise inspired by the spokes of a car wheel, and the letterbox ‘wobbles’ upon a vehicle suspension spring — much to the delight of the owners and the postie!
Neil even designed a custom dining table with circular table legs reminiscent of stacked car tyres.
The interiors have a summery, almost-Mediterranean feel, in honour of the owner’s Greek heritage, with textural materials like mottled face-brickwork, reconstituted timber panels, and lime-washed walls providing a neutral background for the home’s pop of colour in the terrazzo floor and stained-glass windows panels.
Every element of the house seeks to celebrates the owners, giving them a happy home for their next chapter.
‘My clients had given such a good service to the local community when they ran the petrol station on this site, that they are now so incredibly loved by the local community as they make this place their new home,’ Neil says.