Real Estate: top Perth architectural tips for 2014
DOUBLE brick, pitched tile roofs and big porches are a thing of the past. And triple-fronted, “lightweight” homes are in vogue, according to the experts.
For homeowners building a new home this year, The Sunday Times has spoken to some of WA’s leading architects and designers to see what the ‘new’ Australian house style is.
Fifty years ago, a drive down any street, in any suburb, would reveal double-brick built houses, usually of art deco influence.
Today, you’re likely to see a wider range of sustainable construction materials, such as timber, brick veneer and fibre cement cladding.
There is no longer a definitive architectural style in Australia, according to many architects.
However, designers and architects have noticed a trend towards the triple-fronted home – meaning homes have three front-facing walls.
“The typical Aussie is still building homes that inappropriately reference past or international styles – neo-federation, neo-Tuscany, and neo-Georgian,” Iredale Pederson Hook Architects director Adrian Iredale said.
He said a home shouldn’t be built to follow a particular architectural style, but be about the client brief, context, social condition and climatic condition.
One condition in particular that is shaping the Australian residence is people’s awareness of the environment, and the cost-effectiveness of a sustainable abode.
“There is a definite awareness by the public of our environment and global warming,” Fratelle Group director Adrian Fratelle said.
“Clients are requesting better-performing buildings.
“Things such as double glazing, timber or thermally broken window frames, PV cells for power, heat pump units for water heating and rainwater tanks are all now becoming normal requests.”
While many people might like to have a sustainable property, Perth managing director of Herron Todd White, Brendon Ptolomey, said the costs were often prohibitive.
“There is very much a trend for people wanting to have an individual stamp on a home,” he said.
“But in the mortgage-belt suburbs it is still difficult for people to consult an architect and bring that home to fruition in a cost-effective manner.”
As a result, many homeowners have gone for more affordable options, such as off-the-plan designs by building companies.
But D4 Designs director, and winner of Building Designers Australia 2013 National Design Excellence award, Douglas Paton, said off-the-plan offerings “generally have limited style flair”.
“Which is understandable, as the price point is the focus and not the architecture,” he said.
Over the past 30 years, market expectations in home design have changed from three-bedroom, one-bathroom,to properties with at least four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
“Our experience in the marketplace is pretty unexciting,” Mr Ptolomey said. “It is just your standard four-bedroom and two bathroom home, with a double garage under the main roof.”
While the typical floor plan might be “unexciting”, people are in many cases adapting their home’s design as a result of social, economic and environmental contexts.
“We are outdoor people who enjoy socialising,” Mr Paton said.
“So, entertaining and outdoor areas are now as equally important as the indoors.
“Economically, Australia is doing very well. We sailed through the global financial crisis relatively well.
“Environmentally, Australia has an increased awareness in designing for the geographic location and climate.”
As a result, an emerging style is the two-storey version of the triple-fronted house.
“These usually incorporate simple hip and valley roofs with eaves,” Mr Paton said.
“Some feature elements at the front and entry – the current trend tends to be stone cladding – and a double garage.”
Mr Paton said while buying off the plan is more common because of its affordability, there were some people investing in designers. “A good designer will stamp your style, requirements and lifestyle,” he said.
“It’s always best to make the design suit your lifestyle, and not your lifestyle suit your design – easily said, but rarely executed.”
Mr Paton said because of the demands of construction in project and cottage homes, architectural principles were rarely used.
“It ends up being a sausage factory, which provides the advantages of a cheaper product, but the disadvantages of minimal design flair and architectural style,” he said.
“It’s not until owners engage a design professional for a custom design you start to see something unique and special.”
But when designing a home, Mr Ptolomey said it was best to be “conservative” to achieve the best resale value.
“If you go for something that is pretty individual internally and externally, you might find that your taste doesn’t exactly match up with what the market thinks, and you might ultimately suffer on resale,” he said.