SIMPLICITY AND HONESTY OF MATERIALS SHINE THROUGH IN CUSTOMISED FAÇADE FOR THIS BAYSIDE MASTERPIECE
Custom PGH breeze bricks allow this stunning family home to drink in the light, breeze and harbour views.
When architect Renato D’Ettorre came across an Italian hay barn during a holiday sojourn, he was immediately struck by the simple brilliance of the perforated clay bricks that let the air pass through yet keep the hay dry. These were later to become the inspiration behind a hard-wearing and no-fuss home in a prominent location in Coogee.
The brief was for a house that could withstand the corrosive coastal atmosphere while living up to the magical bayside location. The site offered a challenging topography so the owners empowered the architect to develop concepts organically, with the only non-negotiables being a place for the three children to socialise, a music room, and a small gym for the adults.
“In designing this house, we looked at the need to include diversity of conditions and objectives. Playfulness and fun formed part of those objectives,” says Renato. “One of the biggest challenges was creating a home that struck the right balance between befitting such a magical setting while still remaining sensitive to its surroundings and creating a sense of mystery; both of which we achieved through the layered materiality.”
The design of the home also incorporates a sharp contrast to the natural surroundings and deliberately creates deep shadows, giving the house a carved solid aesthetic.
“The house needed to respect the client’s likes and desires: simplicity and honesty of material without excess, simple forms with an evocative presence for such a popular and prominent location, with the underlying requirement for practicality and minimal upkeep,” Renato elaborates.
To make the most of its picturesque location, the house also boasts a large span. This meant that it required an external material that would be strong enough yet beautiful enough to provide a dynamic play of light to the interior, tempering views and weather, and letting the house breathe without requiring unsustainable levels of maintenance. The solution to this was perforated brick.
Renato worked with PGH Bricks & Pavers to develop a bespoke breeze brick; perforated to allow light, fresh air and ocean views to filter through the house. The bricks would also be glazed on one side only; the side that forms the façade of the house.
"PGH was delighted to take on the challenge and, together, they resolved the colour of the clay to be a lighter terracotta colour and the glaze to be a clean, brilliant white to dazzle under the sunlight, just as the ocean does."
“Externally, the white-glazed bricks needed to blend with white-painted brick walls to create the illusion of solidity, depth, and thickness,” explains Renato. “Internally, the unglazed terracotta-coloured clay responds to the refined grey concrete walls and the textured white painted brick walls. The three materials together created a colour harmony that imbued a sense of calmness and warmth, especially during the evenings when the clay breeze bricks are illuminated and glow like a warm fireplace.
“All external materials were chosen for their inherent natural hues and qualities, requiring minimum long-term maintenance,” reveals Renato. “With the passage of time, the materials will age gracefully, developing authentic patinas like natural materials do when they are left to weather by the elements.”
According to Renato, the successful outcome of the project demonstrated the importance of a close collaboration between architect and client.