After years of debate the Perth City Council decided in 1960 to run a national architecture competition for the design of a new town hall and administrative building.  Developed for Open House Perth 2019, the exhibition “Civic Visions | Council House 1954-1963”  re-visits the competition, the construction of Council House and the context of the 1960s.

Council House sits on land which holds great significance for the Whadjuk Noongar people, the traditional owners of the Perth regions and Swan Coastal Plains. From the very beginning of European settlement, this site was used to plan for and govern the colony. Architecturally, Council House is a modernist jewel juxtaposed against equally imposing Colonial seats of power.

It was designed by architects Howlett & Bailey, and set new standards including the first window walling in Perth, and cladding with its distinctive mosaic T-shaped sun-breakers. Construction was spurred by the city’s preparations for the 1962 British Empire & Commonwealth Games and marked a turning point for design, engineering and aesthetics in the city centre.

To complement the modern aesthetic of the building, architects Jeffrey Howlett and Don Bailey commissioned local designers and manufacturers to create the interior design and furnishings for the opening in 1963. A selection of these furnishings will be on display in the Council House foyer, alongside photographs, objects and artwork that tell the building’s incredible story.

Council House is a State heritage-listed building, and received the Australian Institute of Architects 2015 ‘National Enduring Architecture Award.’

Architecture talk and tour will be held at 11:00am on Saturday November 16 by Dr Simon Pendal on the significance of Council House as Perth’s foremost Modernist building (free, no booking required).

Curator tour will take place at 2pm on Sunday November 17 by Dr Nicole Sully on the national architecture competition to design a new Town Hall and Administration building for Perth City Council (free, no booking required).