Pendal & Neille – Expressing Modest Beauty
As a part of our commitment to presenting WA/Australian Architects and designers our first Special Design Feature is from Perth and Sydney based Architects Pendal & Neille. Their multi-award winning Fremantle design caught my eye as it reveals a beautiful simplicity and constraint. I spoke to Simon Pendal about this project and more.
Project Details: Fremantle House, Fremantle WA
Project Type: New Residential
- Commendation in the premiere London-based international awards for emerging architecture- AR Emerging Architecture Awards 2009
- RAIA National Commendation for Small Project Architecture 2008
- Winner RAIA (WA Chapter) Small Project Architecture Award 2008
- RAIA Mondoluce Lighting Commendation 2008
- New Trends of Architecture in Europe and Asia-Pacific 2008-2010
How would you describe your approach to Architecture, and what generally influences the style of your work?
The idea of modest beauty is very important to us. Beauty in the sense of making buildings, gardens and interiors that are designed moments- quiet, atmospheric and correlated. Modesty relates to guarding against excess both budgetary and material. In a professional sense we are very careful, methodical and consultative.
What inspired you on this particular project?
The site was laden with possibility for two principle reasons. Firstly because it was so ordinary- a piece of flat land that used to be someone else’s backyard, secondly because of its dimension- 15 by 15 metres, a small intense dimension in Perth’s terms. Rather than simply reading this site as being small, we sought to pursue this along similar lines to that of the ancient enclosed garden, where the garden walls contained an inner realm of intensity and order.
Our love of John Soane’s own house from the 1700’s in London helped lead us in the direction. Louis Kahn’s belief in the room as the base-unit in architecture- where each room might describe its own inner world- fuelled our own. We also work with local traditions- as such the dimensions of the rooms and heights of ceilings were based upon old cottages from the area.
The house’s arrangement is that of an internal courtyard contained on two sides by thick bedroom wings. The courtyard exists as a plywood-clad living room and centres the house and all movement.
Upon leaving the main living room the occupant enters ‘light corridors’- white, crisp spaces which draw light horizontally and vertically to the house’s centre. A change in floor level provides entry into each light corridor. These give the bedroom a great sense of privacy which might otherwise not be present in such a small house. Off the main space through a portal doorway, the library is an entry into another world entirely, rendered in luscious black shellacked timber it remains a vivid adjunct to the rest of the house.
What are your favourite features of the project?
We really like the sense of spacious generosity, the ceilings are 3.2m and 3.3m in height. The rooms are modest in size however they feel very generous because of their height.
The use of natural light is something that is important in all of our projects, the Fremantle house uses light in multiple ways to make the house feel airy, generous and atmospheric.
The library is lined in timber that is then finished with black shellac and beeswax. It’s a lovely counterpoint to the lightness of the other rooms and is an intimate retreat for reading, watching TV or as a second living space.
What advice do you have for clients thinking of engaging with an Architect?
- Select your architect based on their body of work.
- Select an architect who specializes in the kind of work you want to do.
- Review the ‘Awards’ section of the Australian Institute of Architects website as a place to start. Then you can check out their websites, published projects etc.
- Make a short list of 4 or 5 (maximum) that you like and speak to each.
- Make sure you tell your shortlist that you are speaking to 3 or 4 others- this kind of etiquette is highly valued by architects.
- When you meet your potential architect ask to speak to one or two of their past clients.
- Be sure that you feel good in the company of your preferred architect as you are entering a 2 year working relationship.
- See the architects fee as an investment in the quality of the place they are designing for you.
Where can we find previous works of yours?
Please refer to our website www.pendalandneille.com as each project is generally listed by suburb. Also please call us to discuss these projects if you wish.
Authors: Simon Pendal (Pendal and Neille) + Rebecca Angus
Builder: Don Gavin Developments
Structural Engineer: Capital House Australasia
Quantity Surveyor: Peacock Quantity Surveying
Photographer: Robert Frith Acorn Photography