The Empire strikes back

The Empire struck back at two-storey stereotypes when it opened its doors in 2012 to a home-buying audience eager for different. With its unconventional upside-down layout and ‘floating’ design elements, you felt you were living up in the treetops, high above street level.

“People expected different from this home and they got it,” says Brook Leber, our design chief at Residential Attitudes. “Not only was the elevation different, but also the floor plan was completely different to what other builders were displaying.”

Focusing on quality of space, not quantity of space, the Empire made every square centimetre count on a compact block. Just 10m wide, this was a home that challenged the norm in more ways than one. It didn’t just look different. It felt different.

“The Empire perfectly captured the Residential Attitudes ethos,” Brook says. “Simplistic, yet clever, it challenged the status quo of ‘McMansionism’ through smart design for compact lots.”

Inspiration for the Empire’s street smarts

The Empire was designed for a 430sqm block in the Perry Lakes development, once the site of the sports stadium built for the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Wind the clock back to the early ’60s and Perth was preparing to host an international sports event for the first time. Eager to show itself off as a modern metropolis, the city held competitions to design the stadium and the athletes’ village in Floreat.

Along with new building technologies and materials, the winning designs showcased what is often referred to as ‘the language of ‘modernism’.

Suddenly Perth was experiencing:

  • Radical new ideas that challenged traditional views on form, function and decoration.
  • Homes that took their beauty as well as their strength from structural elements and ‘honest’ materials.
  • Open-plan spaces that incorporated the kitchen, and seamlessly integrated the indoors and the outdoors. For the first time, issues of light and ventilation also became a priority.

Turning things upside down

Fast-forward to 2012 and Residential Attitudes was recreating that modernist aesthetic in the Empire, a home that also turned the traditional two-storey floor plan on its head.

“Like the modernist designs, the aesthetic was clean, modern and pared back, while clever use of space resulted in fewer rooms, but bigger areas,” Brook says.

The Empire’s street appeal lay in the choice of simple white walls combined with raw elements such as breezeblocks and timber panelling.

Putting the kitchen and living areas on the upper floor helped give the Empire its distinctive ‘tree house’ vibe. “By positioning the main areas level with the tree canopy, we effectively removed it from its urban setting,” Brook says.

“You didn’t feel like you were living like everyone else. It’s the same sort of feeling that you get with the Villa Terrazza, one of the latest designs from Residential Attitudes.”

Small space, big ideas

The Empire may have been built on a compact block, but our design team packed plenty in, including a lap pool, a vegie garden, a big ‘entertaining’ balcony, a sunny internal courtyard, a large kitchen with scullery, a study, three big bedrooms, an alfresco, a ‘floating staircase’ and not one, but two living areas. The home flowed. It felt big, open and spacious. It was a home you could immediately settle into.

Big sections of louvre windows offered up views from the upstairs living area to the shimmering lap pool and courtyard below, while the breeze-block feature wall created ever-changing patterns of light as the sun moved throughout the house.

“Take a look at any Residential Attitudes design and you’ll see we’re still delivering ‘different’,” Brook says. “We love being unconventional if it works.”

Modern Home Design