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Completed in 2013, leading Brisbane architects Vokes and Peters used PGH Bricks to create their Double Courtyard House. This humble home was designed for a family that spans three generations and two continents, and provides a base for them in Brisbane. Their philosophy of brick being earth-made, and its provision of tangibility in getting one’s feet on the ground, lends a modest and primitive language to this fundamental family space.

Vokes and Peters used a unique brick blend to establish two walled gardens, creating a pair of outdoor rooms flanking the internal living spaces.  The brickwork was extended to internal flooring, also used to create outdoor seating and a fireplace. The client brief was focused on the presence of nature and natural materials. It was led by imagery of aged European face-brick in leafy unkempt gardens, reminiscent of quaint English cottage gardens. 

Recycled bricks seemed to satisfy the design brief. However, as brick is historically not a predominant construction material in Queensland, the supply of older bricks from demolition projects in Queensland is rare and expensive to access. On visiting the local PGH Bricks plant, the clients displayed a strong preference for the PGH Bricks Dry Pressed Architectural range for its velvety smooth texture and classic appearance. However, the budget enabled an extruded bricks specification, with an entirely different colour palette and texture.

To accommodate both the client’s preference and budget, PGH worked closely with Vokes and Peters to develop a blend of different bricks, each presenting a different face texture and colour. It consisted of approximately 30 per cent Black and Tan from the Smooth range, 30 per cent Copper Glow from the Smooth range, 30 per cent Macarthur Mix from the Crafted Sandstocks range and 10 per cent Mowbray Blue from the Dry Pressed Architectural range. 

This mixed palette created an incredible reactivity to light and a wonderfully nuanced colour combination. It allowed the team to achieve the level of perfect imperfection that the client was seeking. Per the architects, the Double Courtyard House celebrates the fundamental nature of brick and uses the skill of the bricklayers to create unique and interesting brick detailing. At 350mm thick, the solid brick walls lend gravitas to the design, while the common bond laying technique adds austerity and humanity to the walls. The struck-flush mortar joint is a humble and simple method, paying homage to the roots of bricklaying. 

Vokes and Peters also used a three-dimensional bonding pattern to create brick seating that adds depth and dimension to the space. The motif of the moon gate (arch) is a subtle reference to the family’s heritage, while providing a striking frame to the landscape setting beyond. The brickwork extends to internal flooring to create continuity between indoor and outdoor spaces, treating the garden as a room. By enclosing the ground, the sky and sun, the brick walls and floors of the Double Courtyard House provide an authentic connection between the natural and built environment.

Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones

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