The city of Perth was named and founded by Captain James Stirling as the capital of the Swan River Settlement in 1829. However, the traditional custodians of the land are the Whadjuk Noongar, who have lived in the area for at least 45,000 year. As such, Perth is a city rich in history and culture that has given rise to deeply fascinating architectural designs, influences and subversions.
Perth is particularly known for the Gothic design influences which show through in many of its buildings and community houses. Gothic architecture is still highly celebrated in Perth and Western Australia as a whole, securing its status as one of Australia’s most popular design styles to this day. 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 the first cities in Australia to adopt the block concrete styles of early Brutalism. Many large, bulky public buildings grew out of a desire to bring Perth into the modern world. Their design and construction were aided by the mining boom of the 1960s which gave the city the resources to construct large, efficient public buildings. Such buildings have become part of Perth’s iconography, including structures like the Public Transport Center Building in East Perth.
Another factor that led to the rise of brutalism in Perth architecture was the affordability of building materials. During the 1970s, concrete and clinker bricks were extremely inexpensive, making them a favorite for up-and-coming contractors. Perth’s Hale School Hall is considered to be one of Australia’s earliest brutalist buildings. Brutalism’s popularity first grew in Perth before spreading to the eastern states.
Perth’s early architects, Tom McKendrick and Elliot Langdon, laid the foundations for a city of architectural diversity that would later stretch for miles. The Western Australian city has nurtured historic architects such 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 so many shining stars of the architectural world, such as Kerry Hill and Jeffrey Howlett.
When it comes to architecture in Perth – both modern and historic – there is a huge number to choose from. Perth constantly sees new developments, revivals and expansions. Every week new interior designers seem to come up with a redesign of one of Perth’s historic or derelict buildings. Nonetheless, there are a few iconic buildings that stand the test of time when it comes to the finest buildings in Perth. Here are some of the highlights.
Architecture Perth: Captivating and Unique Designs of Perth Buildings
07. North Perth Secondary Hall
The North Perth Lesser Hall is one of Perth’s finest heritage buildings. It was built in 1902 and designed by Henry Procktor. The North Perth Lesser Hall is located in the town of Vincent, which is one of the most populated LGAs in Perth.
At 24 View Street North Perth, the building is just 3km from the Perth CBD. The North Perth Lesser Hall shows influences from Gothic and Baroque architecture, making it one of the most theatrical and opulent buildings in Perth’s cityscape.
06. ANZAC House Perth
Originally a veteran’s house, this building houses the heart of the ANZAC Club of Western Australia.
This building, located at 28 George St Terrace, is a space for former service members, the community and businesses connected to the Australian Defense Force to come together and build camaraderie. The building was completed in 1934 and was designed by Maccormac Architects, one of Perth’s leading architectural firms to date.
05. The Old Mill
This historic 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 town’s main source of flour, producing up to 680 kg of flour per day during its peak.
The Old Mill was redeveloped for a variety of things over the years – including a wine lounge, poultry farm, hotel and private residence – before being granted to the City of South Perth and devolved to the National Trust . For those curious about Perth’s architecture, you can take a virtual tour of The Old Mill here.
04. Government House
Government House is the official residence of the Governor of Western Australia. Remarkably, it’s located in Perth’s CBD, although the building itself doesn’t look at home among the skyscrapers. It was built in the 1850s-1860s and is one of Perth’s most impressive government buildings. The two-storey mansion was designed by Edmund Henderson, who was heavily influenced by the Jacobean Revival style.
03. Perth Bell Tower
This magnificent bell tower houses the Swan Bells, a symphony of 18 bells hanging from an 82.5m high 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 parish bells of Buckingham Palace that date back to before the 14e century.
02. Central Park Tower / Rio Tinto Building
Now, Perth isn’t particularly known for its skyscrapers – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have them. The Central Park Tower (also known as the Rio Tinto building) is one of the tallest buildings in Perth with an impressive height of 205m. Knocked out of the race by Brookfield Place (234.4m), the Rio Tinto Building held the title of Perth’s tallest building from its completion in 1992 until 2016.
01. Town Hall
Perth Town Hall is the best example of the influence of Gothic architecture on Western Australian design. Set amongst the skyscrapers, Perth City Hall sits 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 that make City Hall unique; for one thing, it’s Australia’s only convict-built town hall. The Town Hall was the tallest building in Perth at the time of its completion.