Notre Dame University’s School of Education Interiors

An opaque screen, designed for Notre Dame University in Fremantle, divides a cavernous room into two more useful spaces. The building’s decorative, heritage features are referenced through the form the screen but at the same time its steel detailing nods to a more modern Fremantle.

This project demonstrates the potential of one, clear design idea to totally transform the way in which a space is used with minimal cost and without damaging the building fabric. Small but impactful projects like this provide unifying links through the disparate urban campus, creating moments of joy and beauty for students and staff.

Perth College Boarding House Refurbishment

CODA is working with Perth College to re-imagine their Boarding House, which provides a home away from home for more than 100 girls in Years 7 – 12. Guiding our design of Stage One has been a desire to offer the girls a more dynamic and contemporary experience, providing flexible spaces that can accommodate both social activities and places to just hang out.

With girls from across the breadth of the state, we divided the spaces into three colour palettes inspired by the northern, centre and southern regional landscape. We used artworks from each of these regions to inform our selection and to express the diversity of the West Australian landscape.

An open plan kitchen, lounge and dining room has been created to form the heart of the boarding house. Custom modular lounges and larger spaces for cooking and eating provide comfortable, homely places for girls to connect.

A key move has been to improve connections between the landscape and internal spaces. Large sliding doors open to an enclosed courtyard, which has been elevated by the introduction of playful ground treatments, a sophisticated pergola, festoon lightings and oversized planters. These improvements will increase the functionality of the courtyard, creating a space that will be used for everything from outdoor movies to parties.

Furniture has been selected that is both beautiful and affordable. With an extremely tight budget, this project is being delivered without any increase to the overall footprint of the school. Construction of Stage One was completed at the end of May 2017 and the remaining two stages will follow shortly after.


The Backhouse

The Backhouse is a family home for five that looks for opportunities to colonise spaces through layering and stacking in plan and section. Figuratively, it takes on the form of a barn, responding to Fremantle’s harsh coastal conditions and recording the passage of time. The Backhouse feels authentic and lived in. Both internally and externally, materials have been selected for their sustainability, warmth and lack of preciousness.

Foremost, the house addresses the family’s need for both privacy and connection. It privileges each space and considers their relationship to the site and neighbourhood. In doing this, the family actively engages with each other through the overlapping of spaces.

The house is opportunistic in finding space for solitude by thickening the plan in places. Bookshelves and a bench seat line the stairwell landing and a desk stretches along the landing on the first floor.  The west-facing sunken lounge opens directly onto the landscape and embraces Perth’s relatively temperate climate extending the recycled floor outside.

A cubby for modern living!

Charter Hall Perth

CODA worked with Australia’s largest property group, Charter Hall, to design a new workspace for their growing Perth-based team. An identifiable style had been established amongst the organisation’s eastern state’s offices for activity-based working environments using a sophisticated palette of natural materials and light. CODA were keen to continue this standard in the Perth workspace, but at the same time reflect Charter Hall’s new West Australian location through colour and material choice.

The new workspace is set over a single floor of an established building in the heart of Perth’s CBD. In keeping with the desire for a dynamic and active work space, CODA devised a series of spaces that allow for either collaborative work, individual work or private meetings. Staff have a degree of independence over their working environment through desks that raise and lower according to need.

A social space runs along the window edge, playfully referred to as ‘the deck’, bringing an informal, almost domestic quality to this aspect of the office. Here staff can comfortably eat their lunch, socialise and even work if they choose. A sense of autonomy is prevalent throughout the entirety of this project.

A distinctly West Australian colour palette imbeds this project firmly in its context. Textured natural wood finishes and smooth, golden cabinetry is punctured by shades of sea blue and earthy red tones. Renowned furniture designer, Nathan Day, was commissioned to make an entry desk out of local timbers. Contemporary wall graphics further reinforce Charter Hall’s signature branding, whilst hanging pots and ample plant-life provide a playful and softening insertion into the space.

Murdoch University Mandurah Campus


CODA was engaged to revitalize a series of underutilized rooms and non-descript transit spaces across Murdoch University’s Mandurah campus. The project was initiated as a way of creating a stronger campus identity and offering more to the (mostly mature-age) student experience. CODA’s approach was to extend the use of each space to become places for connection and engagement.

CODA acted as curator and designer, selecting artworks from the University’s impressive collection. In the primary transit corridor, mid-century, Eastern European posters inform a palette of navy, grey, burnt orange and yellow. Plywood is used to form individual work stations and loose upholstered furniture allows the space to be occupied in different permutations.

An undercover area at the rear of the campus has been radically transformed from a dull, prison-like environment to a joyful, welcoming space for social activity. Built-in furniture now divides the space into smaller, more useable spaces. Colour is used to create a strong perimeter, whilst painted carpets have also been used to demarcate space and add a sense of playfulness. A large skylight above the long table shifts the internal volume of the space from shed to room.

An adjacent small lounge, suitable for private study or quiet group work, has been transformed using a saturated palette of deep pink, red and shades of green and blue. Finally, an underutilised foyer and courtyard has been transformed into a pop-up cafe using tiles and bold paintwork.


St. Stephen’s Primary School Upgrade

St Stephen’s Primary School in Duncraig describes itself as ‘a modern, forward thinking school, taking education to a new inspiring level’. The school campus is made up of a number of 90’s brick buildings that do not reflect the school’s current aspirational desire to implement a more progressive pedagogy.

CODA worked with the school to find ways to update it with minimal cost and no structural alterations. The project consists of two distinct key moves, the first of which was to relocate the library to an existing atrium space, allowing it to meander through a more dynamic environment. The old library was converted into an open plan ‘Year 5 hub’, better reflecting contemporary pedagogy.

The spaces are designed to be easily modified so that students can actively participate in their learning environment. Furniture and screens have been fabricated using identifiable, ready-made objects, re-purposed either from industrial uses or from outdoor environments. In the ‘meandering library’ these materials have been playfully used to define the space by distinct themes: Village Green, Town Square, the Street and the highly flexible Market.

The Primary School upgrade project  opened on February 5 2016, in time for the new school year, to the delight of teachers and children!

This project was shortlisted in the following prestigious awards:

2016 Interior Design Excellence Awards

2017 Australian Library Design Awards

2017 INDE Awards

MLC Boarding House

The transformation of the boarding house at MLC offered us an exciting opportunity to conduct an extensive interior refurbishment of three interconnected buildings on the Claremont campus.

We were fortunate to start with good bones: a beautiful federation Centenary Building, replete with generous volumes and timber details, connecting through to additional boarding houses with breathtaking river views. Our design offers a contemporary interpretation of the grand Homestead and reflects the warmth of the care offered here. Every aspect of the interior has been considered; from the unique bedroom textiles designed by Andrea Barton to the bespoke furniture across both the private rooms and communal spaces.

With a new energy running throughout the interior spaces, the MLC boarding house has been catapulted to the most exciting in Perth.

This project received a commendation at the Australian Interior Design Awards held in Sydney in June, 2016.

Urban Hotel Proposal

CODA was invited to present an interior concept design for a new, boutique hotel in Perth. Our scheme responds to the client’s desire for a unique and youthful approach to hotel design, proposing a bold oasis in a newly revitalised urban setting.

From the outset, CODA envisioned this project as a renovation of a ruin, with bold new insertions, complimenting or highlighting the rawness of the building’s shell. Our vision was to create a surprise, something ‘otherworldly’ and inspired by the mid-century resorts and hotels that you might find in LA or Palm Springs. The interiors integrated local artwork, materials and design aesthetic to create a hotel that would feel uniquely West Australian.

Our scheme for the public areas was highly sculptural, featuring a vaulted ceiling and sweeping ribbon to connect the various zones; canopies and staircases were created in its path. Inspired by Luis Barragan, the public areas were bought to life through rich and vibrant colour that would be enhanced by the intensity of Perth’s sun.

The guest rooms were designed to be flexible, functional and to celebrate the beauty of natural materials in combination with whimsical colour and texture. The modular furniture elements could be arranged and adjusted to suit various room types and users. As with the public areas, the rooms were designed to be joyful and memorable places to stay.

Pam Buchanan Family Centre

This project was won through invited tender in October 2009 when CODA was selected by the Karratha K2020 panel to provide architectural services for a new family centre at Baynton West. The Pam Buchanan Family Centre was commissioned in response to the change in focus of mining companies and government towards the creation of permanent communities in mining towns of the North-West.

Built in a category D cyclone zone, the building responds to the dramatic shifts in weather conditions from intense heat to torrential rain and the very real possibility of cyclones. These extreme climatic conditions mean that people largely move around by car, rely heavily on air-conditioning and minimise daytime outdoor activity.

The various elements of the building are ringed via a continuous roof creating deep, covered outdoor play spaces and a sheltered interior courtyard. The courtyard is activated through the passage of pedestrians from one function to another. The material palette was selected based on environment, cyclonic rating and the capacity to be easily constructed on site and within budget. The Colorbond external skin of the building provides a dramatic backdrop for the feature cut outs and courtyard interior.

Colour brings light and surprise to the exterior of the building and works to build a lush constructed interior to the central courtyard.  From the street the painted roof cut outs whimsically signal points of entry and activity.  Within the protected courtyard space luscious greens cool and enliven, creating a complete visual break from the striking red pindan of the surrounding environment.

We believe the key move toward a sustainable environment is creating a building that will encourage families to live in Karratha. This project demonstrates that it is possible to enjoy life outside, away from air conditioning, through the creation of large, protected and ventilated outdoor spaces.  Within these spaces families play, talk and connect with their community.

The Pam Buchanan Family Centre received a commendation in the Public Architecture category of the 2012 AIA Awards (WA).

Fremantle Arts Centre Reception Area

The Fremantle Art Centre, City Of Fremantle (FAC) is located in the heritage listed Lunatic Asylum built in 1864. The departure of the Immigration Museum from the site freed up several spaces for the FAC and opened up opportunities to reimagine its visitor experience.

The original brief called for the design of a reception desk within a newly acquired room at the heart of the building. We saw opportunities to expand on this to review and explore the potentials for the space in the context of the whole institution. This small project mediates between the heritage fabric of the building, the port side history of the place and the contemporary art programme and classes, welcoming everyone to the centre.

Through a simple, elegant and cost effective set of moves we were able to reposition the way in which visitors first experience the FAC, touching the building fabric with only a few small fixings.

From the outset we sought to offer a contemporary interpretation of the surrounding portside environment.

As a tiny project on a tiny budget, we needed to embrace and elevate the way the simple palette of formply, plywood, steel and acrylic could work together as interior finishes.

The massive cylindrical form of the reception desk runs parallel to the length of the space, contrasting with the linearity of the existing envelope. The new display plinths have been fabricated from DD-grade ply and are set on moveable castors. The natural grain of the ply is reprinted on the plinths in a “larger than life” playful nod to the material. They have been developed with an interlocking system that allows the space to be refreshed and adapted according to the needs of the centre.

The subtle shifts in spatial use within a single room have been arranged through careful planning.  Through consultation with the client we extended the brief for a reception desk to include the relocation of the bookshop.  We felt that this simple move would assist in furnishing the space, making it feel inhabited and would also have the benefit of increasing book sales and revenue.

The desk, bookshelves and plinths have been fabricated from a robust palette of recyclable natural materials, again referencing the port city.  Most elements of the project require minimal fixing and are able to be removed without damage to the existing building fabric.

Contrasting this are highly coloured, glossy acrylic elements that act much like maritime signals and tie in with the recent re-branding of the FAC. These elements create a dynamic and changeable interior, acting as a backdrop to displays.

Great projects are only possible with great clients. We worked closely with the Director and Manager of the Centre to understand their needs and communicate our ideas.

The project was achieved within the $70,000 budget. Through careful selection of materials and simple fabrication methods we were able to exceed the client’s original desire for a desk and instead develop a scheme that addressed the entire space.