This is the second of a three-part series on Australia’s regional capitals, with Adelaide featured in the May issue of Home Review and Hobart coming up in the next issue.
Capital of the state of Western Australia, Perth is Australia’s sole regional capital to straddle the Indian Ocean on the country’s east coast. And given the spread of the continent, it also happens to be geographically closer to Bali than to Sydney. These vast distances have contributed to its cosmopolitan character and independent-streak of thought, both of which are reflective in its taste of contemporary architecture.
Perth was founded in 1829 and experienced a population boom in the late 19th century when gold was discovered in Western Australia. This period witnessed the construction of many historic hotels at strategic locations – such as street corners near the city’s railway station – to cater to the growing number of visitors pouring into the city.
Prominent amongst these are the The Royal Hotel constructed in 1882 and the Grand Western Hotel built in 1896. A couple of decades later, an open-air shopping arcade named London Court was thrown open in the city’s CBD. It was built in an Elizabethan and Tudor style – a nod to the English-centric aspirations of the city’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.
Moving on to recent times, Perth has not been hesitant to add contemporary pieces of architecture to its historic fabric. A stunning example of this is the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, a glass and steel structure that snakes its way through the dense tree cover of the city’s Kings Park and Botanic Garden. The walkway soars to the height of tree tops and allows visitors to appreciate the park’s diverse flora as well as sweeping views across the Swan River.
Some more noteworthy examples of modern design are to be found at Elizabeth Quay. Standing proudly at the shore is the minimalist sculpture Spanda, with its concentric rings open to interpretation. Besides it is the Bell Tower, a contemporary take on a traditional structure, built to welcome the 21st century; and in front is the gently curving, sculptural form of the Elizabeth Quay Bridge.
Text And Photos By Kunal Bhatia And Shuvajit Payne