Kulahea is the only surviving residence designed by prominent Western Australian architect George Temple Poole, who is best known for his public work during his time as the Chief Architect of the Public Works Department from 1885 to 1896.
Poole is attributed to the design, or overseeing the design, of many public buildings throughout the State, including the Perth Mint (1897) and the Perth Observatory (1896).
Located 100 metres from Cottesloe Beach, Kulahea was built in 1922 for Charles North, a prominent solicitor and later MP. The name Kulahea is believed to be a play-on-words "it's cooler here" describing the location of the house in relation to the beach, compared to Charles' father's neighbouring home.
The house, designed in the Inter War Old English style, had remained largely unaltered for much of its life apart from changes in 1968 to convert the place into two flats. While some conservation work has been undertaken, more was needed.
This task fell to the new owners who, in 2007, embarked on a major project to restore, revitalise and modernise this architectural gem.
The ground level at the front was lowered to allow the building to stand more distinct, and framed by the long curved limestone retaining wall.
The building was re-stumped, and the jarrah floorboards were removed and relaid, so the floors could be levelled. A new kitchen, bathrooms and laundry were installed.
A modern addition that complements rather than dominates the original building was built, allowing northern light to flood through the once gloomy and dark interior. The verandah canopy is accurately tuned to Perth latitude shading angles, allowing maximum sun penetration in the winter and minimising direct sun in the summer.
Care was taken in the detail where the old meets new, to create a coherent narrative. Jarrah flooring throughout reflects the existing jarrah door and window frames and trim timbers, with an inlaid timber compass marking where the original building meets the new addition.
The project won its category in the 2010 WA Building Design Awards.
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