As the official offices of the City of Perth, Council House has an interesting history, including potential demolition at one stage. Read through some interesting facts about Council House.
A historical overview of Council House
Click to view the 50 Years Council House publication and exhibition catalogue.
- Council House is an 11-storey building that was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 25 March 1963.
- Council House was designed by two young Melbourne architects –– Jeffrey Howlett and Donald Bailey –– who were awarded the commission after a nationwide design competition was launched.
- The walls consist of floor-to-ceiling double-glazed sealed windows in aluminium frames.
- One of the most distinctive elements of the building is the pattern of T-shaped sunshades placed uniformly against the four walls. They were put to stunning use when the building was colourfully illuminated in 2010.
- The ‘technicolour’ building is now acknowledged as one of the city’s most appealing night-time landmarks.
- While Council House is now regarded by experts as the best example of modernist architecture in Perth, there were periods when its future was in serious jeopardy.
- Public offices had been housed on the St Georges Terrace site from the 1840s until the original Perth Town Hall was completed in Barrack Street in 1870. Perth City Council was based there before moving to premises in Murray Street, opposite Forrest Place, in 1925.
- Before construction began in 1961, on a site then home to the Department of Agriculture and the Australian Broadcasting Commission studios, there was a fierce campaign to move the building location to the waterfront.
- In the 1990s, just 30 years after its grand opening, there was a push to demolish the building because it did not fit with the State Government of the day’s vision for Perth, in particular the notion that the area around Council House and Stirling Gardens should become a ‘Heritage Precinct’. The term ‘heritage’ was being used by to describe a certain historic style of architecture, rather than recognising that modern structures can hold heritage value.
- In 1993, the building was vacated for a total refurbishment and removal of asbestos material.
- There was considerable public debate over the future of the building which brought on a strongly fought campaign by architects and the community to save Council House. Council House was saved from demolition and reopened, ironically by Premier Richard Court, in 1999. It was heritage listed in 2006.
- The City celebrated with an exhibition relating the story of Council House by examining the history of the site and how the city of Perth has developed over time.
- Alongside the objects and imagery, the City exhibited the work of five West Australian artists who were commissioned to create work that references the building and its history. A book outlining the building’s colourful history was also produced along with special souvenirs.
- Come and experience a critically acclaimed civic emblem of Perth, its optimism and modernity, and rediscover an affection and pride for a part of Perth’s story which survived to reach this golden milestone.