Think Brick CEO ELIZABETH MCINTYRE reflects on some of the creative and innovative projects using masonry to blend buildings into Australian landscapes.
In Australia, we are seeing innovative designs and applications of masonry blockwork in both exterior and interior spaces. Projects are highlighting masonry’s ability to produce striking designs that blend into the landscape, providing privacy and textured elements.
Masonry has always been the design choice of architects and designers, and we are continuing to see them used in bold and brave ways to create unique and visually stunning houses. From breezeblock walls and brick blade walls, the current scope of Australian architecture highlights an exciting variety of clever designs.
Here are just some of the exceptional designs and uses of masonry.
Brick creating a cohesive relationship with the surrounding landscape
Using masonry to connect a building to the landscape is a powerful design element. In this year’s Think Brick Awards, which celebrate excellence in innovative and exceptional designs, House at Otago Bay by Topology Studio was the winner of the Kevin Borland Masonry Award.
This project had a thorough understanding of the constraints and possibilities of masonry. Connections with the landscape oscillate between enclosure and embrace. A masonry courtyard, colonnade, ledges and terraces soften the distinction and encourage connections between the house and the landscape.
Masonry allows for experimentation, as this house demonstrates. The site process involved numerous sample batches, prototype walls and experimentation with shot blasting techniques and collaboration with the builder.
Locally sourced masonry was custom manufactured with a bespoke mix to complement the tones of the setting. Refined geometry and carefully selected materials have produced a home that is precise yet textured and warm.
It shows a modern, sharp and sleek design made of warm beige bricks, complimented with splashes of dark brown undertones, just like the landscape it sits in.
Designers are creating distinct spaces for multi-use using using masonry and also applying playful experimentation while designing these spaces.
1+2 House by Curious Practice was a finalist of the KBM Award in the Think Brick Awards. Playful experimentations with the archetypal block have produced an array of bespoke architectural elements in this house such as secret stairways, bond patternation, exterior light shades, down-pipe conduits, screening and the letterbox.
From the scale of architectural form to its design, 1+2 House celebrates its masonry foundations as integral to the everyday understanding and use of the building.
The architects created a masonry block podium that not only serves as a robust island, protecting the house from the high flood line, but it also creates a cave-like undercroft and protective entry courtyard.
The Boneo Road Residence by B.E Architecture was another finalist of the KBM Award, highlights that masonry can be the hero of a house and provide warmth through its laying techniques and mortar colour.
Layering different textures can create a subtle finish inside a home, and the elongated form of this home is sliced through and bound on both ends with thick brick blade walls.
Masonry offers low-maintenance and durability, and different applications of masonry block can emphasise textural quality and transform the overall aesthetic of any project.
The decision to use masonry was driven by the environment that this house resides in. The bricks were custom laid with a slight offset in the vertical and horizontal plains to provide a more rustic, textured aesthetic for the exterior and interior walls.
The architects used brick with a longer, thinner profile that was reminiscent of the building itself and adds another layer of sophistication and softness to the walls.
These projects recognise the design potential of masonry in creating residential structures that are both appealing and clever. With so many innovative uses of masonry, there is an opportunity for architects to experiment in their use of material and bold and brave projects.