When architect becomes artist
Brian Klopper outside the Taylor house in Fremantle. Picture: William Yeoman/The West Australian.

Simplicity of design both conceals and reveals sophistication of thought. This is borne out in the work of WA architect and builder Brian Klopper who turns 75 this year and is appropriately the subject of a retrospective at the University of WA's Cullity Gallery as part of a long-running series documenting the work of significant WA architects.

Take one of Klopper's current projects, included in the exhibition and superb accompanying catalogue, the Taylor house in Fremantle: limestone walls and vaulted ceilings and a propped parasol roof; open-plan kitchen and living area upstairs, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, laundry and study nook downstairs; a terrace, shed and carport lie beyond.

Walking through it, one senses a paradoxical intimacy and monumentality; in addition, the ground floor might resemble a crypt were it not for the light that floods in through the glass that reaches up to the living space above - a lovely, playful metaphor.

It's a work of art, though Klopper, who for most of his career of more than 40 years has specialised in domestic architecture, is more modest.

"You think you'll do a few houses and then get a proper job," he says. "I never got a proper job. Then at some point you accept you're a house architect."

Modest but not foolish, as is made clear when I ask about his relationship with clients. "I try to solve their problems - just not in their way."

Born in Northam, Klopper attended Perth Modern School before graduating from Perth Technical College in architecture. The Klopper aesthetic is minimalist and enlivened with an earnest rusticity; the palette comprises combinations of recycled brick, limestone, steel, sawn timber and galvanised-iron roofing.

Simon Anderson, UWA dean of architecture, landscape and visual arts, who co-curated the exhibition with UWA graduate Andrew Murray, says: "For over four decades Klopper's work has remained consistent in its child-like overall form, modular planning and handcrafted, but never highly crafted, execution."

Key projects featured in the exhibition include the Bannister Street shops, Fabrik & Primaries warehouse conversions and St Hilda's school chapel in Mosman Park as well as significant housing works. <div class="endnote">


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