Cottesloe Lobby and Landscape Upgrade
19 Broome Street Cottesloe
Architecture and Hard Landscape: Simon Pendal Architect
Commenced as Pendal and Neille
Soft Landscape Consultant: Carrier and Postmus
Builder: Kelly Building
Structural Engineer: Atelier JV
Electrical Engineer: BEST Consultants
Cost Consultant: RBB
Photographer: Robert Frith
Outline Project Brief:
This project involved the substantial renovation of the public entrance areas of a 1970’s modernist residential tower in suburban Cottesloe, re-phrasing its ramped entrance, an open-air lobby and peripheral landscape. The lobby was to be extended, enclosed and made secure. Existing canopies were replaced. New hard and soft landscape was to be provided. One third of the project budget was directed towards the replacement of common electrical infrastructure and the installation of a new 10kW photovoltaic system.
The project commenced by accepting the physical alignment of the original entry ramp, and an observation that its degraded pressed-brick English Bond retaining walls possessed a subtle rusticity, a feeling of mass and tactility that might lead to a material idea. We wondered how the subterranean lobby could make more of that condition, and were mindful of building atop an ancient sand dune within sight of the ragged limestone edges of Cottesloe Beach. Accordingly, we established a principal of choosing materials of pale complexion – that this colour palette would appear washed-out by the white-light of the Perthian sun – affording a bleached presence specific to this city.
The former ramp was removed and regraded. The original white retaining walls were restored. Within these, a new ramp and low garden walls (in matching ivory brick units) form a singular, weighty vessel which amplifies one’s slow descent. This sense of immersion is marked by the garden wall’s horizontal datum from ‘shallow’ to ‘deep’ and vice versa – thick like that of an emptied-out swimming pool. The walls of this new vessel converge at the principal change in direction, compress and then release movement. A tall, curved, ivory brick wall of substantial scale registers shifting shadow and intense external light off to one’s side.
At the ramp’s mid-point, just at the moment of compression and change in direction, shelter is afforded by a monolithic concrete roof, shaped for the entry of light at its sides and for the registration of stark shadow upon the ground. A grove of reflective columns, each a cluster of smaller polished tubes clutters the space between roof and floor. One tip of the concrete roof converges upon an adjacent wall, hovering just above in a moment of tension.
Arrival at the lobby is compressed – the ceiling is low, vaulted and heavy – a shapeliness that extends deep into the interior before it is abruptly cut short by a shift in colour, tone and an even greater compression of scale; a teal-green ‘stage set’ for ones arrival and departure from the lobby which reminds us once again of swimming.
This is a peripatetic architecture – the collecting small moments of experience, the rewarding of glances left and right, and of immersion and shifts in scale under movement.