Integrated Outdoor Living with Five Leading Australian Architects

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     We speak with architecture studios Benn + Penna, Edition Office, Vokes & Peters, Matt Gibson Architecture + Design and BayleyWard on why outdoor living spaces are integral to our homes.

    If there’s ever been a time that we’ve all experienced a heightened appreciation for outdoor areas at home, it’s now. As we spend concentrated time in our backyard, we’re looking at how these ‘outdoor rooms’ most often crafted from the material of brick, are inherently aligned with a home’s indoor-outdoor connection, overall footprint and liveability. 

    We sat down with directors and lead architects from Australian firms Penn + Benna, Edition Office, Vokes & PetersMatt Gibson Architecture + Design and BayleyWard to highlight the capabilities of bricks and why they’re fundamental to designing integrated outdoor living spaces.

    In partnership with Brickworks

    Benn + Penna

    Sydney architecture firm Benn + Penna specialise in residential architecture and small commercial projects with a penchant for heritage alterations and additions. A key thread in their alterations and additions projects is the material of brick. Lead architect Sean Tran says this is because they have an inherent landscape quality and high thermal mass while bringing character and modesty to a project. “In Henley Clays project we strategically used the same brick for both wall and floor material, as well as on both enclosed and external spaces,” Sean says. “By doing this, the line between outside and inside spaces is made ambiguous.” 

    Instead of creating one large and open space, the Benn + Penna team decided to frame a series of more outdoor rooms in their Henley Clays project. “Each outdoor room is directly connected to one or more indoor rooms, allowing for inside and outside activities to spill between one another and be combined,” Sean says. 

    Sean acknowledges that while it’s known the Australian climate can be harsh, our outdoor living spaces can be designed and orientated to suit the climate, as in Henley Clays House. “The courtyard is protected on three sides by the building walls, open to the north side only to attract the highest sun whilst shielding from the wind,” he says. “The rear pool, on the other hand, is more open, yet located on the sunniest end of the site for water to glisten in the light.”

    “Bricks have an inherent landscape quality. They are robust with high thermal mass, but also feel modest. For our Henley Clay project, we strategically used the same brick for both wall and floor material, as well as on both enclosed and external spaces. By doing this, the line between outside and inside spaces is made ambiguous.”

     

    – Sean Tran, Benn + Penna architect

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    Henley Clays House by Benn + Penna

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    Henley Clays House by Benn + Penna

    Edition Office

    Melbourne architecture studio Edition Office design sanctuaries, offering a sense of rejuvenation and connection inwards to family and outwards to the natural environment. Co-director Kim Bridgeland says this is achieved through treating indoor and outdoor spaces equally. “They are as valuable to each other in how we choose to live, but these outdoor spaces when integrated into the home extend the sense of volume and openness to the interior,” Kim says. 

    Kim maintains it’s particularly important for outdoor spaces to be crafted from materials that age well and withstand weather conditions; developing a patina and layers of personality over time. “Well made bricks have an ageless quality about them that will only get better with time,” he says. 

    “We utilised bricks for the outdoor living space in our Fish Creek project in order give a sense of connection to place, to offer a sense of being grounded and protected, while engaging with a broader landscape beyond the walls of the home.”

     

    – Kim Bridgland, co-director of Edition Office

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    Fish Creek by Edition Office features textured recycled bricks that wrap around the entire project.

    In their Fish Creek project, textured brick walls wrap around the home, extending northwards to enclose a large outdoor living space. This courtyard garden room extends the interior living spaces and ensures a connection with the outdoors that’s sheltered from the strong winds of coastal Gippsland. “We utilised bricks to the outdoor living space of our Fish Creek project in order give a sense of connection to place, to offer a sense of being grounded and protected, while engaging with a broader landscape beyond the walls of the home,” Kim explains. 

    In an earlier coastal project, Edition Office celebrated the Port Phillip Bay views of Mt Martha through two long breeze block walls, allowing northern light to penetrate the outdoor areas and into the home. These breeze block walls frame the interaction with the outdoors, referencing the relaxed utility of mid-century coastal modernism.

    “With the capacity of being structural, embedded in the ground and finely detailed, bricks allow us a seamless continuity between walls in the garden and interior walls of a house, together with a legible occupiable terrain.”

     

    – Stuart Vokes, co-director of Vokes and Peters

    Vokes and Peters

    Brisbane-based architects Vokes & Peters are concerned with Queensland’s architectural traditions and how they inform the local lifestyle. They believe outdoor rooms play a critical role in engaging homeowners with their private open space, so they might become active contributors to a vibrant neighbourhood. 

    Vokes & Peters Co-director Stuart Vokes says bricks are the perfect material for making rooms in the garden. “With the capacity of being structural, embedded in the ground and finely detailed, bricks allow us a seamless continuity between walls in the garden and interior walls of a house, together with a legible occupiable terrain,” he says.

    Vokes & Peters create meaningful outdoor rooms through conceiving bricks as floors, stairs, hearths and seat plinths; a singular material and colour that reinforces the architectural concept. “Increasing comfort, pleasure and contentment in outdoor spaces extends the time that we can spend outdoors, no matter what the climate, time of day, or time of year,” Stuart says.

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    Casuarina House by Vokes and Peters features Bowral 76 – Chillingham White bricks from Brickworks Building Products used to create custom seating, a large outdoor fireplace, outdoor walls, pool fencing and a pool border.

    “In North Melbourne Terrace, the use of brick was all about being true to the story of the building and its history.  This inner city A1 listed Boom-era Victorian Terrace house had been largely unaltered since it was built.”

     

    – Matt Gibson, director of Matt Gibson Architecture + Design

    Matt Gibson Architecture + Design

    Melbourne-based practice Matt Gibson Architecture + Design have their name across many of Melbourne’s historic dwellings. Being entrusted to take on these projects is a result of their holistic approach to design, considering the combined experience of architecture, interior and landscape. 

    In their North Melbourne Terrace, bricks were selected to remain true to the building’s history and story, in what director Matt Gibson says delight with their honesty and rawness. Here, new and old converge as part of exposing and illustrating the history of construction and alterations over time. “The openness and informality of the rear living areas appear as an undercroft ‘scooped out’, allowing a sense of space that reaches to the extents of the property boundaries to bring the landscape inside,” Matt says.

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    North Melbourne Terrace by Matt Gibson Architecture + Design features an Austral Bricks brick-faced tile roof and combines salvaged bricks with Austral Bricks for the external walls.

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    North Melbourne Terrace by Matt Gibson Architecture

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    North Melbourne Terrace by Matt Gibson Architecture

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    North Melbourne Terrace by Matt Gibson Architecture

    BayleyWard

    Melbourne-based design practice BayleyWard co-director Nick Readett-Bayley says the while the idea of outdoor living is not new, the notion of being able to stretch its use beyond fine weather days is. Nick claims this is where technology and design solutions converge, helping to moderate temperature and wind. 

    The sense of another ‘room’ be it in a garden, backyard or terrace allows people to pause and dwell in the landscapes we work so hard to integrate into our buildings,” Nick says. The architect says using the material of bricks to shape outdoor spaces embodies a domestic history and scale they have explored in much of their work. “We have a number of current projects under construction which wrap brick paving and walls into seating, barbeque, plinths, steps and other elements within an outdoor space,” Nick says. “Quality tends to walk hand-in-hand with the desired appearance of bricks that our team specify,” he adds.

    This feature is part of a series on how leading contemporary architects and design figures use bricks, in partnership with Brickworks

    The sense of another ‘room’ be it in a garden, backyard or terrace allows people to pause and dwell in the landscapes we work so hard to integrate to our buildings.”

     

    Nick Readett-Bayley, co-director of BayleyWard 

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    Barney House by BayleyWard pays homage to its Edwardian red brick frontage with a contemporary red brick outdoor living space that features a custom barbeque area.

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    Barney House by BayleyWard

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    Barney House by BayleyWard

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    Barney House by BayleyWard

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Creating Integrated Outdoor Living