House of Bricks

This warehouse-style home in Prahran Melbourne, is tucked away behind Victorian shop fronts and offices. Located in a cul-de-sac, this brick and steel abode speaks of the past, while presenting a strong contemporary statement to the street. Designed by Melbourne based architects and interiors, Jolson, the new three-level home replaced a red brick mechanic’s workshop. Situated on a generous site, particularly for the inner city (approximately 600 square metres), the warehouse was formerly flanked by two modest Victorian terraces.

While these flanking Victorian terraces have been completely reworked, they also form an important link in the streetscape. The design aims to strengthen this link rather than ignore with the contemporary interpretation of the picket fence embossed across the steel door of the home’s new garage. The northern façade of the Prahran house also features a rich tapestry of recycled red bricks (not from the original mechanic’s workshop) inspired by the client’s love of travel through the Middle East and Asia.

So the threads of the ancient kilims have been finely woven into this home, with the exposed brick walls appearing throughout the home. Strategically placed skylights further animate these walls, in conjunction with the steel treads of the staircase and balustrade with polished concrete floors on the ground and first floor of the home.

As well as the large garage and the entrance lobby, the ground floor is loosely divided into two guest bedrooms and a bathroom, together with a breakout lounge. There’s also access to the lift, and on first floor is the main living area with a generous gourmet-style kitchen, dining area and lounge, orientated to the north.

Colour was another criteria used by the client in the initial briefing process. Colour not only adds character to each space, but also help to delineate each of the open plan spaces. Colour also complements the more robust deeper tones of the material pallet, such as the black steel used for the kitchen’s island bench and the extraordinary bookshelves that literally pierces the two upper levels. Black steel also defines the open fireplace and provides storage for the wood.

The layout of the kitchen is pivotal to the Jolson team design. Featuring eucalyptus veneer timber joinery and a porcelain bench, this elongated island unit caters for entertaining on the grand scale.

In contrast to the lower levels, which have a strong industrial aesthetic as requested by the client’s brief, polished concrete floors and exposed brick walls, the top level featuring the main bedroom domain is textured. Broad-timber floorboards and pristine white walls feature throughout, with accents of vibrant yellow in the furniture. The study/home office, featuring part of the over scaled sculptural steel bookshelf, is one of the most intimate and richly adorned nooks. Impeccably stacked books sit alongside sculptural offerings by the likes of artists such as Julia deVille.

The main bedroom, with its walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, also benefits from retractable glass doors to a terrace, the latter including a plunge pool. Orientated to the north, this black steel and glass contemporary pavilion appears to hover over its façade of recycled bricks. The vines spill over the edges and create a ‘hanging garden’ effect. The architects also ‘cranked’ the home’s northern glazing, framing the main bedroom, to ensure city skyline views from lying in bed.

The Prahran home is unique. It was designed for a client who not only has a passion for travelling and fine art, but also for an ability to celebrate context and invest in enduring architecture and design.


Photography Lucas Allen

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