An award winning architectural project, which won the coveted Sir John Sulman Medal for Public Architecture was built using bricks and pavers from Austral Bricks .

BVN Architecture won the Sulman award for their architectural design work on the Mabel Fidler Building at the Ravenswood School for Girls, at the Australian Institute of Architects 2012 NSW Architecture Awards held recently.

In addition to supplying Bowral Blue bricks for the base walling, Austral Bricks worked with BVN and ESD Landscape Contractors to develop a new clay paver format, essentially a half-brick laid on its edge that allows the base walling and adjacent paving to ‘form a continuous landscape out of the same material’, explains project architect Knut Menden.

The Mabel Fidler Building is located at the heart of the school with senior school classrooms grouped around the lower courtyard, and the main reception, administration, cafeteria, senior student lounge and staff areas on level one within the base structure.

The lower level walling, made up of an inner skin of 200mm thick reinforced concrete, 45mm polystyrene foam insulation, a 45mm cavity and an outer skin of Bowral Blue dry pressed bricks, supports the upper level steel framing and roof structure.

The cantilevered top level, which houses the Learning Resource Centre, is clad in hollow, translucent polycarbonate panels with translucent glass on the inner face further diffusing the light.

Although the site dates back over a century, much of the campus was built in brick in the second half of the last century. The brickwork theme was continued with the use of clay pavers, which flow from the exterior into the cafeteria and through to the senior student lounge and staff area.

The designers wanted the walling and paving to be unified in colour and form, requiring the bricks and pavers to be the same colour, length and set-out to align across both planes.

To meet the specific requirements of BVN Architects and ESD Landscape Contractors, Austral Bricks offered to cut bricks in half at the factory and then decided to manufacture a special unit measuring 230mm L x 55mm H x 76mm W.

The pavers were laid on a base of cement-stabilised sand and the 10mm gaps slurry-filled with a grout matched to the mortar colour of the walling. The set-out was controlled by a stringline grid, assisted by the 6-metre grid used throughout the building.

Austral Bricks has developed the half-brick pavers format into a standard product range called the Bowral Bricks Hamlet Collection comprising of three standard colours: Blue (used in the Ravenswood project), Sepia (brown) and Ash (grey). Custom colours are available for larger projects.