Inventive Extensions by Leading Australian Architects

  • We explore three historic homes with modern extensions, each proudly highlighting one unifying, viable ingredient.

    Australia may be relatively young in terms of its architectural heritage, but we are certainly not void of design leaders when it comes to working with the old. Our featured series in partnership with Brickworks superbly demonstrates this, sharing how leading contemporary architects and designers use bricks to innovate our homes. Through an esteemed local panel including Ritz & Ghougassian, Clare Cousins and Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, we’ve learned how clay bricks and concrete blocks are a superior candidate for innovative heritage extensions.

    Where period features meet modern additions, each designer has chosen bricks or blocks for their unfaltering qualities – be it low-maintenance, durability or sustainability – and run with them to create truly unique homes. These three homes will have you very excited about how the old can be challenged and respected through the application of bricks while making way for smarter spaces.

    Produced in partnership with Brickworks

    York Street Residence by JCBA

    Along with the owners, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects were passionate about celebrating the character and charm of the original red brick home. They both knew the home needed to evolve to better respond to how they live now, by welcoming a new rear extension that worked within the heritage requirements. JCBA’s lead architect Rob Majcen said at the core, “the design embraced a sensitive response to the heritage context of the existing retaining building and its surround[s].”

    So it was only natural that their considered response to this design called on the same trusted material. Specifically, Bowral Bricks Dry Pressed Face Brick in Brahman Granite (available at Brickworks) were chosen for “their inherent quality, appearance and strong lines which suit the Federation-style home,” Rob said. Just as the timber, concrete, stone and glass, the clay bricks have been applied in an experimental geometric pattern as perforated brick screens. This is what Rob calls a ‘hit and miss’ style of brickwork, letting light in from the highest points to the lowest points of the interior. The bricks also provide a clear visual distinction from the old, letting the heritage features really sing.

    Ultimately for Rob, choosing these bricks goes far beyond their aesthetic appeal – they ensure the home’s soundness and structure for “overall long term performance”.

    Highbury Grove by Ritz & Ghougassian

    A humble semi-detached Victorian-era home in Highbury Grove, Prahran, came to fame with Ritz & Ghougassian’s clever intervention, inspired by Japanese design and a tonne of concrete blocks. The studio’s conceptual extension is based around a set of walls that overlap and enclose the space within – careful to the heritage façade and the bordering public laneway.

    By far the most recognisable aspect of the home, the exposed concrete masonry offers the extension low maintenance, fire resistant and highly weather resistant walls. Ritz & Ghougassian selected heavy-set Austral Masonry GB Smooth concrete bricks in nickel exclusive to Brickworks; their first time using the material, which has fast become a hallmark feature in their work.

    According to Ritz & Ghougassian director Gilad Ritz, they selected these concrete blocks, not only for their hard and protective qualities but because they are modular and allow for repetition and precise detailing. The blocks have purposely been left exposed, framing views and as Gilad appreciates, running in a linear fashion. Together with the warming timber joinery and polished concrete floors, the concrete block extension plays to the beauty of juxtaposition; warm and cool, textural and smooth.

    Garden Room House by Clare Cousins

    The Garden Room House by Clare Cousins is a literal embodiment of its title, where the rear extension is closely tied to the outdoor space. The extension hides behind a 150-year-old period façade in Fitzroy North, replacing a former addition with a smaller, more efficient design.

    The double-glazed ‘Garden Room’ is framed by refreshingly light and low maintenance brickwork – almost a given, because they’re Clare Cousins’ favourite material. As Clare Cousins puts it, “We like to use robust, versatile materials that can be used internally, externally and for walls and floors – bricks are perfect for this,” she said. But they don’t use any old bricks, they source quality bricks “to ensure they endure for generations to come,” Clare adds.

    Out of respect for the home’s ‘polychromatic brick heritage frontage’, Clare Cousins chose two shades of Bowral Bricks: Dry Pressed Chillingham White and Nubrik Acland Cream Pressed Bricks from Brickworks. These bricks have been applied in a non-traditional stack bond pattern and are key to linking indoor and outdoor spaces. Without a doubt, these bricks are the crux of a renewed heritage home and garden retreat for the young family that live here.

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