The Mornington Centre in Victoria has won the Horbury Hunt award. Think Brick Australia, as a part of their About Face awards programme, this year revived the Horbury Hunt Award. Austral Bricks have won on five previous occasions over the years.

Horbury Hunt award recognises Australian commercial projects in clay brick that exemplify innovation and excellence in design and construction.

Melbourne’s Mornington Centre, designed by Melbourne architectural firm Lyons, was the winner of this year’s award. Lyons won the commission by designing a building that looked more like a beach house than a hospital.

Lyons conducted research into weathered timber as an alternative to the traditional hospital façade. Timber was not feasible and that brick was the only material which met the centre management’s requirements.

The challenge was to make a brick building look timber like. The Lyons’ team worked on various patterning designs in negative and positive results and called upon the expertise of Austral Bricks.

Austral Bricks concluded that the level of detail required in embossing would only be achieved with a pressed brick technique that is custom made.

The wall texture achieved on the project comes from the shadows created from embossing. The designers considered various options before developing a series of wood grain patterns.

The final embossing design mimics a knothole, with concentric rings such as relief lines on a map, a “thumb mark” in one corner, and a pronounced land around the periphery. Lyons hit upon the idea of using a hardwood flooring analogy. The final design is made up of three ‘planks’, each consisting of two brick colours, one plain and one embossed.

Austral Bricks observe that the ‘planks’ vary from light to dark and are laid, so the ends line up randomly. These modern-looking and innovative bricks were created using modified century-old brick presses.

The resulting bricks were created in five colours: Parchment, cream, mild-coffee, full-strength coffee and manganese. In total 50,000 units were laid in this project. No embossed bricks were cut, which meant the use of plain bricks at corners, parapet edges and around openings.