The city of Perth was named and founded by Captain James Stirling as the capital of the Swan River colony in 1829. However, the traditional custodians of the land are the Whadjuk Noongar people, who have lived in the area for at least 45,000 years. As such, Perth is a city rich in history and culture which has resulted in some deeply fascinating architectural designs, influences, and subversions.
Perth is particularly known for the gothic design influences that come through in many of its community buildings and houses. Gothic architecture is still very celebrated in Perth and Western Australia as a whole, securing its status as one of Australia’s most popular design styles to date. Brutalism is another facet of Perth’s architectural culture that contributes to the city’s composition with exposed concrete and brick facades a common sight on Perth’s residential streets.
Perth was also one of Australia’s first cities to embrace the blocky concrete styles of early brutalism. Many large, bulky public buildings were born amid the desire to introduce Perth into the modern world. Their design and construction was helped along by the 1960s mining boom which flushed the city with the resources to build large and efficient public buildings. Such buildings have become a part of Perth’s iconography, including structures like the Public Transport Centre Building in East Perth.
Another factor leading to the rise of Brutalism in Perth’s architecture was the affordability of building materials. During the 1970s, concrete and clinker bricks were extremely cheap – making them a favourite for up and coming contractors. The Hale School Hall in Perth is credited with being one of Australia’s first brutalist buildings. The popularity of brutalism first rose in Perth before spreading to the eastern states.
Perth’s first architects, Tom McKendrick and Elliot Langdon, laid the groundwork for a city with architectural diversity which would later spread kilometres. The Western Australian city has nurtured such historical architects as George Temple Poole, who made a name for himself designing in the early 1900s, and Iwan Iwanoff in the 1950s-1980s. Modern Perth celebrates just as many bright stars in the architectural world, such as Kerry Hill and Jeffrey Howlett.
When it comes to architecture in Perth – both modern and historical – there are a rich number to choose from. Perth is constantly seeing new developments, revivals and expansions. Every week new interior designers seem to propose a revamp of one of Perth’s historic or abandoned buildings. Nevertheless, there are a few iconic buildings which stand the test of time when it comes to the most beautiful buildings in Perth. Here are a few of the highlights.
Architecture Perth: The captivating and unique designs of Perth buildings
07. North Perth lesser hall
The North Perth Lesser Hall is one of Perth’s most beautiful heritage buildings. It was built in 1902 and designed by Henry Procktor. The North Perth Lesser hall is located in the City of Vincent, which is one of Perth’s most populated LGAs.
At 24 View Street North Perth, the building is just 3kms away from Perth’s CBD. The North Perth Lesser Hall shows influences from gothic and Baroque architecture, making it one of the most theatrical and opulent buildings of Perth’s cityscape.
06. ANZAC house Perth
Originally a veteran’s house, this building provides a home for the heart of Western Australia’s ANZAC Club.
This building, located at 28 George St Terrace, is a space for ex-service, community and businesses related to the Australian Defence Force to gather and build camaraderie. The building was completed in 1934 and was designed by Maccormac architects, one of Perth’s leading architecture firms to this day.
05. The Old Mill
This historical building is one of Perth’s most famous cultural landmarks. It was completed in 1835 and provided many jobs for the community until the early 1860s. The building was the city’s main source of flour, producing up to 680kg of flour a day during its peak.
The Old Mill has been repurposed for a variety of things over the years – including a wine saloon, poultry farm, hotel, and private residence – before it was granted to the City of South Perth and vested in the National Trust. For those curious about Perth architecture, you can take a virtual tour of The Old Mill here.
04. Government house
Government house is the official residence of Western Australia’s governor. Remarkably, it is situated in the CBD of Perth, though the building itself hardly looks as though it should be at home among skyscrapers. It was built during the 1850-1860s and is one of Perth’s most impressive official buildings. The two storey mansion was designed by Edmund Henderson, who was heavily influenced by Jacobean Revival style.
03. Perth bell tower
This magnificent bell tower is home to the swan bells, an 18-bell symphony which hangs on an 82.5m tall campanile. Western Australia’s most culturally significant bell tower was custom designed to house the twelve bells of St Martin in the Fields – historically significant bells of the parish in Buckingham Palace which date back to before the 14th century.
02. Central park tower / Rio Tinto building
Now, Perth is not particularly known for its skyscrapers – but this doesn’t mean it has none. The Central Park Tower (also known as the Rio Tinto building) is one of the tallest buildings in Perth at a whopping 205m tall. Edged out of the running by Brookfield Place (234.4m), the Rio Tinto building held the title of Perth’s tallest building from its 1992 completion into 2016.
01. Town Hall
Perth town hall is the single best example of how Gothic architecture influenced Western Australian design. Standing its ground among skyscrapers, the Perth town hall can be found on the corner of hay and Barrack street.
It was designed by Donald Bailey and is Australia’s only Gothic-style town hall. There are many other things which make the town hall unique; for one, it is the only town hall in Australia built by convicts. The town hall was the tallest building in Perth at the time of its completion.