When considering what key elements he wanted within the home, John specified that he wanted long, slender bricks inspired by those of American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He found a similar style from Austral Bricks, the La Paloma Grande 50mm bricks in Miro, which offered the same effect. John’s love of both modernist and classic architectural style has been amalgamated and displayed within his home. In the kitchen space, John added a dining booth, a feature that rose to prominence in the 1920s. John updated this retro feature by keeping a minimal scheme, with plywood joinery and leather seating.
As with many projects, John’s plans for the home were ever-evolving. Drawing on his skills as a building facade specialist, he originally planned to create a modest, pod-like structure from steel and glass. However, the longer he spent at the project site, the more he was inspired to create a more dimensional home. John already had an established relationship with William Dangar, a respected landscape designer of Dangar Barin Smith. From this collaboration, O’Brien ended up meeting architect Michelle Orszaczky who also shared a penchant for mid-century architects and design. The duo embarked on a brief that re-considered and gathered inspiration from such architects as Pierre Koenig to assimilate into the Australian lifestyle and culture.
The minimally designed home is a true testament to engineering; the frame of the house, crafted from steel, was created without welding due to the waterfront location. The success of the home is owed to the intricacy of the structure. John credits Michelle with success, claiming that she “spent a lot of time detailing the steel frame to get it right… Once it was up, it set the framework for the rest”.
The house is set up with 3 main zones. There is a parent’s wing, a children’s wing and the living area. Architect Michelle explains how “the steel frame pavilion is separated from the sleeping zones by the thick brick walls… these walls house joinery and provide a visual and spatial separation”. Both John and Michelle were pleased with this brick feature, saying, “the contrast of the white brick and the blackened timber siding is one of my favourite things about the house”.
John largely credits the success of the house with the team who helped him create it. He explains how he “would talk to the builder [Robert Plumb Build] almost every day and he would talk to Michelle on a regular basis… he knew the quality we were expecting and his team didn’t guess stuff if they didn’t know it”. This attention to detail was integral in ensuring that the house was perfect and in keeping with the brief.
John has a few favourite features of his beloved home. The layout is a key element of the home’s success, with John saying, “The kids use their area to chill out and get away from wherever the adults may be”. Another favourite part of his was the brick feature wall. This project demonstrates the versatility of brick, and how it can be used both in traditional structures and as an interior design element. John claims that we’re happy with the brick and quality of bricklaying”.
- Spain – confident, creative and the artistry of Dali, Picasso, Miró, which give inspiration to the soft white and charcoal black bricks of La Paloma and La Paloma Rustico. Characterful, eye-catching and steeped in heritage, they express two striking colours found in the spectrum of fired clay colours, transforming buildings into works of art.
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