Double Courtyard House

Vokes and Peters use PGH Bricks & Pavers to help create a signature style

Project Details:
Location: Brisbane, QLD
Architect/Building Designer: Vokes and Peters (with Owen and Vokes and Peters)
Builder: John Wales
Bricklayer: BSK & Associates

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Leading Brisbane architects Stuart Vokes and Aaron Peters have been specifying PGH bricks for more than 12 years to create high impact brickwork.

“We regularly incorporate brickwork as the principal material of our residential and commercial projects. This has created continuity across our body of work and our use of brick has become integral to our practice,” said Stuart Vokes, co-director at the firm.

PGH Bricks has helped execute these designs time and again, with a well-rounded range and a team that consistently offers flexibility and solutions within the project budget.

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Double Courtyard House: PGH Bricks helps to create a humble home for a multi-generational household

Completed in 2013, 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.

“Being made of earth, the use of bricks provides a tangible sense of getting one’s feet on the ground, and lends a modest and primitive language to this fundamental family space,” said Stuart.

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 and 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 Dry Pressed 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 five different bricks, each presenting a different face texture and colour. It consisted of approximately 40 per cent Dry Pressed bricks in Macarthur Mix and Mowbray Blue and Sandstocks in Blackett, and 60 per cent extruded bricks, using Smooth bricks in Copper Glow and Black and Tan.

“This mixed palette created an incredible reactivity to light and a wonderfully nuanced colour combination. It allowed us to achieve the level of perfect imperfection that the client was seeking.

“We’re often asked what our ‘perfect’ brick would be. There isn’t one, and this project is a good example of that. Each brick is like a stroke of paint on a canvas that contributes to an overall composition. The result was achieved by working with PGH, using their broad product range and ability to be flexible. The finish of a brick blend is almost impossible to replicate with just one brick; it would lose authenticity,” said Stuart.

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Celebrating the craft of bricklaying

“The Double Courtyard House is a true expression of bricklaying, one of the few remaining true crafts on a building site. Unlike so many other trades, bricklaying methods have remained largely unchanged for centuries,” said Stuart.

“The Double Courtyard House celebrates the fundamental nature of brick and uses the skill of the bricklayers to create unique and interesting brick detailing,” he added.

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 a 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 in itself.

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.

Project Team: Stuart Vokes, Aaron Peters, Nicholas Skepper, Michael Lineburg
Engineer: Greg Killen
Hydraulic Engineer: Greg Hamilton

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