A small brick home is woven into the urban fabric of metropolitan Melbourne’s streets, boasting an elementary silhouette, thanks to local studio Breathe Architecture. But the quaint brick home wasn’t always meant to be so…compact. After a year-long sojourn in Copenhagen, the clients — a family of four — found the original plans for an expansive home, superfluous. Accustomed to the intimate spaces of their Scandinavian flat, the clients opted for a smaller scale project, from which the Brick and Gable House was conceived. The result, a home with clean and compact volumes, favors authenticity in the face of unabashed grandeur.
Reducing both budget and dimensions, creativity is dilated in a fully articulated expression of Less is more. In the small brick home, a seemingly simple appearance hides fantastic spatial solutions where essential and bare elements are the heir of a rich Victorian past. The team at Breathe went the extra mile to preserve the unique features in a contemporary, comfortable, and sustainable context.
Renovation of the heritage listed home meant interventions on the original structure’s bones were limited, adding “lived-in” features that are both imperfect and honest when flanked by the authentic architectural elements. While the front façade was left untouched, the home’s backside was re-worked by architects, where a distinctive character was injected into the property through recycled red bricks. Covering the entire surface, the wall adds a robust and informal touch, triggering a dialog with the surrounding structures.
The aesthetic choice is also echoed inside, where the bricks remain center stage, occasionally left bare and in continuity with the exterior surfaces, or else painted white to brighten interiors. Within this rough and warm shell, intimate atmospheres are cultivated through open space layouts in communal areas, where much of the intervention was focused. Between the living area and a kitchen dominated by a large central island, inhabitants are encouraged to mingle in spaces marked by an abundance of wood. Meanwhile, references to Modernism and Scandinavian style were incorporated to reflect the owners’ taste.
Flooding interiors with light, an internal courtyard is home to a “secret garden”, which softens and interrupts the rigid compactness of the volumes. Utilizing recycled materials for both the bricks and oak flooring, architects took a sustainable approach reflected in every aspect of the project, from construction to energy systems.