Handmade bricks from the Petersen range were a significant part of the materials palette selected by the architect to lend a sense of permanence to a new home in South Yarra.
Designed by Oliver du Puy Architects, Park House is a stunning new home that balances its strong presence with a gentle sense of warmth, sitting elegantly in its 19th century heritage context. Built on a tight urban site, the architect has thoughtfully and creatively delivered a real sense of elegance, both inside and out, in this timeless family home.
“Using timeless materials and, with beauty and proportion in mind, I’m trying to take command of space, light and shadow,” Oliver du Puy explained.
The original cottage had been rebuilt in the 1950s into a more modern design, and then converted into a mock Victorian property in the 1980s. The latest redevelopment embraces a contemporary form – a significantly more spacious, light-filled three-bedroom home with a library. Park House’s delicate contemporary design references the original Victorian townhouse with beautifully accentuated details, most strikingly, its magnificent brick façade and verandah.
“The verticals of handmade brickwork are contemporary versions of the classical pilaster – they’re monumental in scale but with a deliberate lightness, and free from any form of ornament, so they don’t detract from the Victorian details of the home’s neighbours,” du Puy commented.
du Puy’s materials palette took inspiration from the Petersen bricks used by Belgium and Swiss architects, including, most particularly, the Kolumba Museum in Cologne.
"I loved the Petersen product and the handmade craft process and felt it would help me achieve my somewhat juxtaposed desires for Park House – a sense of monumentality in scale but with a gentle lightness … The lightness in the D71 brick gives a bit more of a delicate lightness in form as well, and softens it and gives it warmth. I didn’t want it to feel oppressive, and a brick with a big colonnade can feel a bit oppressive; I wanted to give it a residentiality.”
Commenting on the accentuated verandah where Petersen bricks have been mechanically anchored to the soffit, the architect said, “Just like the Roman and Greek temples, I wanted to express the brick as the structure and fully immerse the home owners in the material.” The highly skilled team at Lowther Builders was able to achieve spectacular results on this technically challenging task.
“The poetic shadow on the brickwork is incredibly beautiful and is there in full force, showing up the brick in different light conditions and different shadows across the day and night with artificial lighting,” says du Puy. The interior of Park House is well-lit naturally thanks to the creative use of skylights and internal courtyards.
The delicately contemporary home sits comfortably within South Yarra’s 19th century heritage streetscape, and will be enjoyed by multiple generations of owners for years to come.
Photographer: Tom Ross