Architect Joe El-Sabbagh looked to the works of celebrated US architect Frank Lloyd Wright for inspiration when it came to building a new home for his own family.
El-Sabbagh has always considered bricks to be his dream building material, mainly for their durability, forgiving nature, low maintenance and classic good looks. Most of the projects designed by his company, Design Corp across residential and commercial sectors are constructed from brick.
So when it came to building a house for his own family consisting of his wife Cindy and their five children, he decided to use bricks. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago buildings featured modern, clean lines of (usually) red bricks, specifically ‘modular bricks’, which El-Sabbagh wanted to use on his own home.
Having worked with PGH Bricks & Pavers almost exclusively on various projects for several years, he turned to them to source his dream bricks for his home project. Because the Lloyd Wright bricks were US-made, the architect wasn’t sure if he could source that style locally.
“I got in touch with PGH to see if they had anything similar before I considered sourcing bricks from overseas," he says. “Apparently I called at the right time.”
PGH was in the process of developing a similar style of brick. A meeting with the PGH product development team helped El-Sabbagh finalise the new product, just in time for his family home to be the first project to feature the new linear modular bricks - McGarvie Red from the Dry Pressed Architectural range.
El-Sabbagh’s new home is almost a tribute to the beauty of the PGH brick. It features both linear and standard brick shapes in McGarvie Red on the exterior facades, and just the linear bricks in the rear outdoor dining space. The installation involved the use of a number of traditional and unusual bonds and bricklaying styles.
A feature wall of bricks laid in a pigeon-hole pattern in the outdoor area allows free flow of air through carefully laid gaps in the bricks. This pattern also allows filtered light through, while maintaining privacy from the neighbours.
Bricks have also been laid on the front exterior in a unique pattern designed by El-Sabbagh in painstaking detail.
“I wanted something different out front,” he explains. “Before we started building, I actually got 400 bricks from PGH and developed a model with little foam strips (representing the mortar) and I started doing some patterns on the floor almost like a puzzle.
“I would do some dry bricklaying, then I'd take a photo and then I'd speak to the bricklayers and they'd say, ‘this is going to take forever’.”
The final design outcome was worth the painstaking process and the attention to detail. The pattern on the dramatic frontage had some of the bricks protruding 15mm, creating a textural effect that changed according to the time of day and angle of the sun.
“It depends on which angle you look at it,” he says. “It's got this optical illusion where it depends on where you're standing, making you appreciate the pattern in completely different ways. The sun bounces differently in the morning than the afternoon. If you're looking at it diagonally, your eye will pick up a line that's going up or a line that's going down; it's amazing.”
El-Sabbagh says that the bricks will ensure their home lasts well; besides, with a house full of teenagers to toddlers, the low maintenance factor is a big plus.
Architect and Photography: Designcorp Architects