Modern Australian Family Home

WORDS Cheri Morris


Architect Neil Cownie is behind the design of Roscommon House, a family home inspired by the natural beauty and brutalist architecture of Western Australia’s Floreat suburb.

The clients wanted a family home with “a strong sense of belonging” that would age with grace, remaining relevant and highly versatile through all stages of life. To realise this brief, Neil looked to the history of the site’s suburb for direction – the town’s planning, nearby architecture and the ideals of the original subdivision.

Image credit: Jack Lovel

Simplistic in form, the house spans a singular floor, with the exterior boasting a careful contrast of concrete blocks – some bold and square, others sculpted into elongated oval shapes that add an organic feel to the rawness. Materials chosen for their ability to age like family heirlooms dominate the space in an arresting juxtaposition of wood, marble, terrazzo, velvet, timber and glass. Outdoor furniture includes the Basket chair, designed by Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel and the Boma collection, designed by Rodolfo Dordoni, both created for international outdoor furniture brand Kettal.

Hand-made interior furnishings, such as heavy linen with exposed hand-stitched edging, dining and bedside tables, and the living room rug, add a homely ambience to this modern space. In the kitchen, an island bench with hovering stone top reflects the seaside concrete kiosk building saved from demolition by the community.

Walk-through “pocket” courtyards and roof terrace gardens blur the boundaries between inside and outdoors. Low-maintenance materials are complemented by 50 photovoltaic panels that generate the home’s electricity (all excess energy is stored in batteries). Within two years, the house will be totally self-sufficient.

Image credit: Robert Frith

See more projects by Neil Cownie, here.