California Dreaming Palm Springs Style
Architecture, Articles

California Dreaming Palm Springs Style

Mid-century modern coastal design staple, the breeze block – continues its architectural moment in the sun, as the Palm Springs aesthetic remains one of the biggest design trends of the past two years.
POSTED
26.03.2021

Adored for their distinctive appearance, versatility and thermal properties, breeze blocks (concrete blocks with ornate cut outs) have been a staple of Australian homes and outdoor living since the 1950s and 1960s and synonymous with America’s desert design hotspot, Palm Springs.

Dating back to the 1930s, breeze blocks were primarily used as decorative fences or screen walls in hot climates to allow a breeze through, hence the name.  They were also popular as fencing and screen material in coastal areas prone to cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons.

Traditionally, variants of the breeze block have been used as ornamental screens in India, Japan and the Middle East. 

California Dreaming Palm Springs Style

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright is oft credited as the creator of the breeze block after he used a precast concrete wall system, inspired by Mayan temples, on several houses in California including the Ennis and Millard House, also known as La Miniatura, built in 1923 in Pasadena, California. 

Known as Lloyd Wright’s ‘textile houses’, they are prominent in modern architecture. 

Whether you’re renovating or embarking on a new-build, incorporating breeze blocks for feature walls indoor or outdoor, will add architectural interest and achieve the look and feel of a coastal retreat or Palm Springs abode. 

California Dreaming Palm Springs Style

The decorative cuts in the concrete blocks allow natural light and air flow through the wall, whilst providing both shade and a privacy screen. Currently available in seven designs, the Austral Masonry Breeze Block, offers a unique aesthetic and ventilation for those looking for a distinctive walling option.

Sydney architect Sam Marshall from Architect Marshall has collected over 17.5k Instagram followers @breezeblockhead who gather inspiration from the over 3.7k posts of assorted walls, fences, screens, gardens, stairs and carports.  

In July 2019, Marshall collaborated with Brickworks to editorially direct coffee table tome, The Breeze Block Book, exploring the past, present and future of the Breeze Block. 

California Dreaming Palm Springs Style

“The allure of the breeze block is partly because it offers a form of ‘accessible modernism’ to everyday design lovers,” says Marshall. “The burgeoning reappraisal of their value seems to stem from a recognition that, in a changing climate, our buildings need to be more resilient — less dependent on mechanical systems for cooling and ventilation and built to last.”

Brickworks General Manager of International Marketing, Brett Ward, says breeze blocks are perfect for Australian homes and our fondness of coastal design and outdoor living. 

“The recent resurgence of the breeze brock mirrors the growing recognition of the modest masonry block’s design possibilities,” says Brett. “Breeze blocks also reduce the need for heating and cooling due to their extraordinary thermal mass qualities by keeping external temperature variations from transferring to interior living areas, which keeps costs down in terms of the use of heating and cooling appliances.” 

“Breeze blocks also lower noise due to their form and require negligible upkeep,” he adds. 

“The recent resurgence of the breeze brock mirrors the growing recognition of the modest masonry block’s design possibilities.”

Brett Ward
General Manager International Marketing, Brickworks
California Dreaming Palm Springs Style

“The recent resurgence of the breeze brock mirrors the growing recognition of the modest masonry block’s design possibilities.”

Brett Ward
General Manager International Marketing, Brickworks
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