Australian architect Neil Cownie took inspiration from the suburb of Floreat’s aesthetic history in designing Roscommon House to merge past with future. Combining board-formed concrete with timber and brass, the residence references the past, but at the same time acquires a timeless, versatile character, which ensures it will be relevant over a long period of time.
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, external dining table, bedside tables, and 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 being 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.